Moe the Shmoe, A True Story of Redemption

Alan J. Schwarz
6 min readFeb 20, 2020

Morris (Moe) Shelow had just finished a delicious breakfast. He was sitting at the ‘’Central’’ a delicatessen that was owned by the Eisen family. Moe and Mikey Eisen had grown up together. They had both vowed to keep their family businesses going, with Mikey having much more success.

The Shelow Furniture Store was limping along. At one point, it was the only place in Littleton to buy dining room tables, beds, and assorted other items for the house and it had thrived. Over time, however, major chains like ‘’The Interior’’ had entered the area and competition had become fierce.

Back in the day, people were loyal and Shelow Furniture could count on repeat business, not so much anymore, one discount coupon from the competition and sales fell dramatically. Families that bought all their home furnishings from Shelow were now buying from The Interior or worst of all online.

Moe had tried to go with the times and had his daughter Amy design a beautiful website (at least he thought it was beautiful, anything Amy did he thought was fantastic) but online sales were not even a quarter of their revenue.

Tamara Shelow was a very supportive wife and his best friend in the world. They had met at the University of British Columbia. They dated through University and there was no question that Tamara was his soulmate. As soon as he graduated with his degree in Psychology and she graduated from Law School they got married.

Two years after they tied the knot their beautiful daughter Amy was born. She was in Moe’s opinion the most gorgeous girl in the world. Moe’s parents Frankie and Joanie adored her. She was their first Grandchild and she brought them true happiness every time they saw her.

On Frankie Shelow’s seventieth Birthday he presented Moe with an envelope. It contained the deed for the property the store was located on and a note that simply said ‘’I love you son. You can handle running the store. I know you had other plans in life, but you make us proud and I’m sure you will make the business even better. Mommy and I will always be here for you, you’re a wonderful son and we were blessed to have you. We love Tamara and Amy and our prayers are only for you all to have health and happiness forever. We know that prosperity will come your way.’’

Ten years later Frankie passed followed by Joanie and there was a sadness that never quite left Moe. He was glad he had his wife and daughter, but when one becomes an orphan there is always a void.

Tamara spent her days working with the ‘’Pelton and Hayes’’ Law firm. She did mostly wills and estates. She was very well-liked, and her income helped support the family. This was difficult for Moe but Tamara insisted and she always said ‘’When the store starts rocking, I’ll retire.’’ So far she hadn’t left the firm and it has been almost twenty-five years.

Many of Moe’s pals had done very well, and they wondered why he had held onto the store. At one point it had been a thriving business, but now it was just a pebble competing against rocks and for that reason they thought Moe was a Shmoe.

One night Moe was working late when a young man, who was very well attired entered the store and approached him. ‘’My name’s Peter Jameston and I’m the development director with The Interior. We are expanding and we know you’ve been in Littleton a long time and have a strong customer base. We are prepared to pay you one hundred thousand to take over your operation.’’ He handed Moe his business card and they shook hands. Moe was pleased the competition had noticed his small store. ‘’You know Peter, I have a wife and daughter, so I need to talk with them, can you give me a couple of days? Oh, and if I sold you the business, would you pay me to rent the building? I would need a couple of thousand a month to cover insurance and upkeep.’’ Peter said he thought that sounded reasonable and looked forward to his answer.

Moe hurried home and told Tamara and Amy the news and they both said it was Moe’s decision. That night he tossed and turned trying to figure out the right thing to do.

The next morning he went to the Central for breakfast and to kibbitz around with Mikey Eisen. When he got to the store he called Peter Jameston. ‘’Peter, thank you for your kind offer. After discussing it with my wife and daughter, I’m going to accept.’’

The next few weeks were filled with meetings, and Tamara going over the legal documents. Finally, two months later the contracts were signed and a check was handed over. Shelow’s was now part of The Interior’s universe.

Moe had been offered a position to continue running the store, but he declined. If it wasn’t his baby any longer he needed to step away.

Tamara who had the opportunity to leave her law firm decided she loved the work and stayed on. Moe spent his days watching the stock ticker at ‘’Herbert Cohen & Sons Stockbrokers.’’ They had an on office on Wentworth, and Herbie and Moe had been friends for years. Moe made some extra money, lost some money but at least had fun.

Shelow’s Furniture was renamed ‘’The Interior North’’ and after agreeing to let the company do renovations to the sales floor, Moe didn’t pay much attention.

One weekend Amy came home from her job as an Architect in Toronto to tell her parents she was engaged. She had been dating Jonathan Lebowitz and he had proposed. Jonathan had a background similar to Amy’s, his Dad, Mark had been in the furniture business and had handed everything over to him when he retired. Jonathan had expanded the company and was also involved in other business ventures.

Moe and Tamara were delighted, they loved Amy with their hearts and souls. As soon as they met Jonathan they loved him, they could see he was a class act and more importantly he adored their daughter.

The Engagement party was at the Windsor Arms Hotel and Moe and Tamara were beyond excited. It was one of the most important nights of their lives

The night was beautiful and everything was perfect. Moe and Tamara had booked a hotel room at the Windsor Arms. Knowing they didn’t have to drive back to Littleton after the party made them even more relaxed.

At the end of the night, Jonathan took centre stage to make a speech. ‘’I am so grateful I will be entering the Shelow family. I am grateful every day for meeting Amy, she is smart, beautiful, loving and kind. I spent my life looking for her and I am grateful to Gd that I found her. I look forward to celebrating with you at our Wedding next month, and thank you for coming tonight.’’

There was a wild and ebullient round of applause and Jonathan merged into the crowd. When he got over to Tamara and Moe he was beaming. ‘’I never really said thank you for raising such an amazing girl. I’ve talked to Amy a lot about you, and we want you involved in our lives in a big way. In fact, I want to talk business with you Moe. Maybe tomorrow after breakfast. My furniture business has grown really fast, but we are missing the special touch to make people feel loyal and comfortable shopping at our stores. I was wonder if you would take on the position of ‘’Head of Customer Engagement’’ for our chain. After all, as soon as Amy and I are married next month she’ll be a full partner. Our chain of stores is called ‘’The Interior.’’

Moe was shocked, he couldn’t believe it. He wanted to discuss everything, but Mikey Eisen came over and threw his arm around Jonathan’s shoulder. ‘’Congrats kid, you’re marrying into a Great family!’’ Jonathan was very gracious and said ‘’Thank You so much, I do feel very lucky. If you’ll excuse me, I see Amy wants me.’’

As Jonathan started to walk away, he said to Moe and Tamara, ‘’I’m really looking forward to breakfast tomorrow.’’

Moe stopped for a second, he could only think one thought, he was proud of his daughter. Somewhere up above the clouds his parents Frankie and Joannie were smiling and happy. The Shelow family was back in the furniture business, bigger and better than ever.



Alan J. Schwarz

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