Earl is a distant cousin on my father’s side. He has had a long run of entrepreneurial escapades. Most of them are catastrophic failures. But there have been a few successes which provide seed money for the next round.

About four years ago, he got into construction to make ends meet. It’s been awhile since he sold the chain of Gentleman’s Clubs ™ and he’s run through the money he made there. Well, he said a pretty little lady drove by the work site one day and asked for help with a ‘tiny house’. Earl figured she meant a doll house and agreed to help. He couldn’t figure why a dollhouse needed a sink plunged, but what the heck, she was paying cash. He wasn’t entirely certain that wasn’t a euphemism for something else (ahem). Anyway, he followed her out to a half acre lot with her tiny house or camper with siding as he described it. They got to talking and he learned she paid sixty thousand dollars for this place that was maybe 200 square feet, not including the land.

And that got his gears churning. He had an old single wide just sitting there on the back of his property that he used to go sleep in when he and his wife Suzanne are in a snit. He ‘borrowed’ some lumber from the job site and went home. He worked into the wee hours and by day break, he had three tiny house shells. Earl visited every junk yard in a fifty mile radius picking up plumbing systems and cabinets from RVs. He bought remnants of carpeting and liberated left over tile and granite from the work site of his day job.

They didn’t sell for more than a month. Suzanne took over the marketing, called them ‘bespoke’, and they were gone by the end of the week. Earl took his garden shed, fitted it with a loft for sleeping and a handmade spiral staircase. He put in the basics of a kitchen and bathroom. Suzanne called that one ‘quirky’. It was sold by the end of the next day.

Now he’s made a business of buying up single wides and garden sheds and converting them into tiny houses. Suzanne just slaps on the labels of reclaimed, artisanal, unique, handmade, and hand-curated. They sell like no decent thing should. He’s even had to get warehouse space and a workforce. This is usually the point at which he’d sell the business and disappear for weeks, but he says he’s having too much fun.

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