Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Shattered Dreams - 30 Jan. 2007

A simple break-in piece wouldn't be very interesting to our readers, so I wanted to explore what it was like owning a business while going to school. That angle came easily, and so did the awesome quotes from the husband and wife owners.


Joe Corn got the call in a hotel room. He and his wife Clara had rented the room because his home’s electricity did not work – a casualty of this month’s ice storm.

And if a week without power wasn’t enough, police were on the line.

A burglar had broken the 7 foot-by-6 foot storefront window of RPM Paintball with an apple-size rock.

By the time a patrol car had been dispatched, two paintball guns and the burglar were gone, leaving glass and debris on the redbrick sidewalk in front of his business.

“I was surprised, I wasn’t expecting it. I thought it was a prank call, actually,” said Joe, Tahlequah junior.

But when he arrived, reality set in.

“I was worried about what they took,” he said.

Luckily for the 1-year-old business, the burglar only took two cheap paintball guns, known by their trade name: markers.
His wife Clara, Tahlequah junior, was a little more upset about the Jan. 20 break-in.

“People should really think before they steal from someone,” she said. “When you steal from a small business, it hurts someone. When you first start out, your paying for it to be there.

“I just wish people would think more often.”

A few days after the incident, Joe purchased a security system and installed new locks on the doors.

A spokesman for Tahlequah Police said there are no strong leads in the case.

“We need a break on this one,” said Brad Robertson, public information officer. “We need someone to come forward.”

He said there have been no similar crimes in the area. Statistics show Tahlequah Police arrested and jailed 21 burglary suspects in 2006.

Few students run a full-time business while taking a full-time school load. The balance is stressful, said Joe, but his love of the sport helps.

“It is pretty stressful. You’re trying to organize and work with the schedule of the store,” he said. “On the other hand, I have my own life to take care of. School is what takes the most toll, so I put it in backseat a lot more.”

Playing paintball has exploded in Oklahoma, especially along the Arkansas state line, where the forest terrain supports “woodsball” weekends. Middle-class patrons fuel the sport’s commercial base, buying up markers, compressed air, paint, goggles and accessories at a fervent rate, sometimes building their own “hot-rod” setup.

And since a another business owner opened a paintball field near Tahlequah, those playing “speedball” run through paint and air about twenty times quicker with faster marker rigs.

But Joe seems to care less about the bottom line and more about enabling the love for a game, a love for the hobby he shares with his customers.

The burglary will not hurt his business too much, but if a suspect were caught, Joe said he would only ask for a monetary recoup of his losses.

“I just think they were being idiots. Everybody makes bad decisions,” he said.

And on the success of RPM Paintball, Joe takes a light-hearted approach.

“It was a chance on opening the business,” he said. “I’ve gone through my first year, which is always the roughest.

“Then I get broken into.”

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