Learning simplicity from an entrepreneur

I’ve known Ted Dreier for more than 40 years.
In fact, it was in 1968 that my mother and I bought a small import gift shop that he and his wife, Karen, had founded.
After college, Ted taught three years in Malawi, Central Africa. During that term of service, Ted’s young entrepreneurial mind was working and he saw an opportunity–an opportunity for himself and, especially, an opportunity for the native wood carvers.
Once back in the States, Ted and Karen began importing Malawi wood carvings and opened a little import gift shop in the college town where both my husband and Ted worked.
In 1968, Ted was moving on and wanted to sell the business. It seemed the perfect retirement business for my mother.
So we bought So-fari Gifts, and my mother ran the store for 15 years until she retired again at age 80.
The reason I happened to think about Ted right now is that I’m downsizing my file drawers–tossing and saving. One thing I’m saving is a file folder labelled “Dreier, Ted.”
I’ve admired Ted’s entrepreneurial spirit for years, and I’ve saved articles about Ted from major magazines, such as Bottom Line and Advertising Age.
After So-fari, Ted earned a Master’s degree in business and moved to Dallas, where his career took off.
For years, he and Karen lived the good life–a big house, beautiful clothes, concerts, a Mercedes, and fine restaurants.
But in his late 40s, Ted was given a choice–either buy out his partners or sell. Ted decided to sell and give up the “rat race.”
They sold their house and most of their possessions.
Their neighbours thought Ted and Karen were divorcing. But when they found out the Dreiers only were scaling down their lifestyle and moving from Dallas to a small condo in Breckenridge, Colo., the most common comment was, “I wish I had the guts to do what you are doing.”
Ever the entrepreneur, Ted hatched the idea of writing a book, “Take Your Life Off Hold,” which is a collection of interviews with people who left the rat race for a simpler life.
One time, my friend, Ethel, and I visited their Breckenridge condo while our husbands were skiing. Ethel and Karen have something special in common. They’re both avid quilters!
By then, Ted and Karen, an interior decorator, had built a three-story duplex with a stunning view of the mountains—only a six-minute walk from the ski-lift.
Now the Dreiers winter in Tennessee and spend summers in Colorado. Still entrepreneurs, they rent out their house during the ski season.
In 1992, an interviewer from Bottom Line asked Ted, “Why would you want to make big changes to an already good life?”
Because there is more to life than simply accumulating possessions, replied Ted. And a more simple life allows time to do the things you love–writing a book, playing an instrument, enjoying nature, painting, or volunteering.
Ted and Karen were smart enough to “retire” and “downsize” before they had to. But they have never regretted their decision.
What are the choices you can make today to live more simply and meaningfully?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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