Harrison Shmaltz Fooled Them All

To look at Harrison Shmaltz you would never be able to figure out his story. Harrison was a sixty year old guy who never had been married but also had never been or felt lonely. He loved women and loved dating, but he was very private and nobody really knew anything about his life which was perfectly okay with him.

Harrison really didn’t have any serious vices. He didn’t smoke, he drank very moderately and only at social situations, and he wasn’t a very big gambler. On occasion he would go the casino, but when he reached his limit or won over a hundred dollars he would head out the door.

Freckles the Beagle had been Harrison’s dog for fifteen glorious years and they were best friends. Harrison enjoyed every minute of every day.

It wasn’t until Harrison made a donation of thirty million dollars to the Hospital for Sick Children through his company ‘’Pure Luck Corp.’’ that anybody even noticed he existed but once that donation was made public, there was a couple of Journalists who wanted to find out more about this philanthropist who stayed out of the spotlight.

Harrison had mixed emotions about revealing anything about himself but he thought his story might inspire others, so he accepted an invitation for lunch with the two Journalists and made the trek into Toronto.

They met at a restaurant downtown and the Journalists were both respectful and curious. After ordering a pasta primivara and a soda water, Harrison decided to share his incredible journey.

It had started when he was in University. He had met some great people and when he graduated they kept in touch. His degree was in business but because his parents were not in the best of health, he decided to come home and run their fish shop. They sold kosher fish and his father loved the business. One of the Journalists asked if Harrison’s father had his shop in downtown Toronto and had sold it for millions. Harrison laughed. ‘’My Dad rented his shop on Harbord from Mr. Lowenthal, and we paid him rent forever, no we didn’t own the building nothing like that.’’

Harrison explained that one of his friends from University was very smart and had made a lot of money buying and selling houses. Harrison didn’t like the risk involved in that business, so he stuck to being a fish monger. His parents aged before his eyes and within two years they both passed. Harrison had a major decision to make, what was he going to do with his life? He wasn’t married and he didn’t have any dependents, so he was free to choose his path.

A year after his parents died, Harrison sold the business to Monty Lewin who was still running the shop. Monty had expanded the business and was now doing a big wholesale trade.

Harrison decided to do something creative, so he accepted a job with an ad agency. He was an account executive. He dealt with clients who wanted greater exposure. He brought them into the agency he was working with, Bocabella and Stein and then he made sure their needs got looked after.

At the Agency there was a guy who was a billing and payroll clerk who was working on something called an App. It was in Harrison’s opinion very cool. The idea was to put ads on the internet and monetize them. The guy, Stuart Feglin had gone to everybody at the Agency to invest in his project and he had been rejected and treated horribly. Some of the creative people even had the audacity to laugh at him.

Stuart was working late one night when Harrison came into the office to pick up some creative outlines that he needed to show a client . When Stuart asked Harrison what he was doing, and Harrison told him, Stuart suggested he could put the creative online for him, which was unheard of. Harrison told him to go ahead and Stuart did it. When the client saw the online presentation they went crazy with excitement they loved it.

Back at the Agency, when Harrison told the Managing Director about the tremendous success he had experienced with the online presentation, the response was tepid and Harrison was reprimanded for showing the creative to a lowly payroll accountant.

The next day, Harrison invited Stuart for lunch. He told him he was willing to invest in his dreams for a partnership stake. Stuart agreed and they had papers drawn up. Harrison found it hard to be at the Agency, he saw people differently because of the way they had treated Stuart. They were supposed to be creative and open to new things, but they weren’t. He resigned and left the Agency to follow another dream. Harrison had always loved art and decided he would buy and sell oil paintings.

Over six months passed and Stuart was having a hard time finishing his app and unfortunately the Art business was also slow. Harrison had a meeting with Stuart about their future. Stuart told Harrison to relax as everything would be fine, he was almost done but he needed more money to complete everything.

Harrison went to the bank and took a mortgage on his house. He turned the money over to Stuart who left Bocabella Stein and opened his own office. Everyday Harrison felt a little more nervous and when mortgage rates went up the nerves in his stomach became more acute.

One morning Harrison received a call from Stuart, he was done. Everything was complete. Harrison left the art world and went back to the Ad business. He visited a ton of agencies but none of them seemed interested in Stuart’s online presence which was called ‘’Digital Advertising’’ According to the agencies there weren’t enough people online to watch and you couldn’t prove numbers. Things were looking glum. The mortgage money was going fast and no clients seemed interested until Harrison had breakfast with Monty Lewin. Monty liked the idea of putting his fish shop online and he bought ads. Within a month, Monty’s business had tripled and he told his friends. Soon the retail business online was flying fast and furious and everybody wanted digital advertising. Bocabella and Stein were on the phone and after a meeting with Harrison and Stuart they offered five hundred thousand dollars for the company which was a lot of money. Stuart was ready to sell but Harrison remembered the way they treated Stuart and turned them down. Things were finally getting interesting.

Six months after the launch of digital advertising, Harrison and Stuart couldn’t keep up with the demand. They were hiring account executives and creatives everyday. It was like a gold rush, then something dramatic happened.

Harrison received a call from the Vice President of an American broadcast network. They asked for a meeting and flew Stuart and Harrison to New York on a first class flight. They also put them up in the Ritz Carleton. Stuart was nervous and was sure they were going to make a low ball offer after treating them so nicely, and they would feel obligated to take it. Harrison explained that wasn’t the way it worked. If an offer was made and they didn’t like it, they would walk.

They didn’t have to walk. The offer was for five hundred million dollars. Harrison and Stuart sold their company that afternoon. Stuart went home and told his long supportive girlfriend he wanted to get married in France, and two days later he flew off with her. He bought a villa in St. Tropez and was living happily ever after.

Harrison invested his money in some start ups, certificates and in the bank and continued to live a low profile lifestyle. The deal was never publicly announced so nobody knew numbers or the players involved. Digital Advertising had evolved into a multi billion dollar business.

Once a week, Harrison shared breakfast with Monty Lewin, because if it wouldn’t have been for his fish and a willingness to go online, digital advertising would have never taken off.

As far as the donation to Sick Kids, Harrison believed that anybody who was sitting with over three hundred million dollars in the bank had an obligation to do good. He just wanted to do good.

When lunch was over the Journalists thanked Harrison and they left together. Harrison took the streetcar and knew it would probably be for the last time as after the article came out, his face would be known and so would his story and that meant the end of his privacy.

As he headed out to his farm, east of Toronto, Harrison was thinking about his future and he decided it was time to find the right woman and settle down for his remaining years. He also thought he would grab a flight to Australia, he was sure the story wouldn’t be big news there, and maybe he could find the quiet life he loved. In the meantime he thought about how proud he was to have invested in Stuart. Harrison Shmaltz kept thinking the same thought, never under estimate anybody. Today’s payroll clerk could be tomorrow’s creator of something magnificent. Harrison had proof that it really did happen.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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