When my father kicked me out, one of Chongqing’s “bangbang” porters took me in
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Just as I started junior high school, my father used all his savings to lease two storefronts in a newly-opened building materials market in Chongqing. The store specialized in aluminum ceiling panels, and other ceiling materials. He told me, “This store is the lifeblood of our family—your school tuition and all our basic needs depend on it. If we don’t manage it well, we’ll have to go back to our home village and work the fields.”
The two retail spaces totaled 200 square meters. They were originally connected, but my father split the space using several sliding partitions. We used the front as a showroom and the back as a warehouse. Once a customer had chosen a ceiling, my father would open the partition, drag out the 6-meter-long stock material, unpack it, and cut it to the customer’s specifications.
My father and stepmother ran the business on their own. When business was good, it got busy enough to make my head spin—it was common to have seven or eight groups of customers at a time. We lost many willing customers because there was nobody to greet them.