While most seniors are giving in to “Senioritis,” marketing major, Alex Abell, is busy running three local businesses: Dear Drunk Me, Abell Multimedia and, his newest addition, Divided by Zero.
Set to open at 11:11 a.m. on Friday—11/11/11—Divided By Zero is a novelty shop specializing in everything from local artwork and party supplies to hand-blown glass tobacco pipes and consignment pieces.
As you walk up to the store on the corner of Gordon Street and Baytree Road, you are greeted with blinking lights and a sign that reads: “We sell fun.” Once you get inside, the energy is phenomenal.
Abell and his business partner Jason Romano, 28, of Valdosta have been dreaming this place up for four years now.
“I was visiting my sister in Athens and she took me to the Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother,” Abell said. “It is a huge warehouse of oddities and fun novelties. I later visited the original store in Little Five Points in Atlanta, Junkman’s Daughter, and I knew that something like this would bring life to the Valdosta business scene.”
Romano said that he met up with Abell some time ago and mentioned his dream of owning a novelty shop. Romano was going to move away from Valdosta this summer, but Abell called and changed his mind. According to Romano, Abell called and asked if he remembered that novelty shop plan they had talked about. He did, of course, and the rest is basically history.
That’s not to say that everything has been smooth sailing for these entrepreneurs. They had planned to open up in September, but things didn’t quite work out as planned.
“We’ve been through every regulatory hurdle and snag that you could imagine and we’re definitely ready to see where it all takes us,” Abell said.
Romano, who also works in a local department store, hopes that this business venture will take them far from the corporate model seen in other area stores.
“I work for corporate America right now, and I hate it,” he said.
Romano feels that the corporate model does not provide enough support for the employees or the customers.
“We care about our customers,” he said. “And employees? That’s me and Alex. If he’s okay, I’m okay.”
Currently some of the store’s merchandise is ordered through companies, but Romano and Abell both want to focus on getting more local merchandise.
“We hope to make it a community effort where a lot of people are able to sell their arts or other items in the store,” Abell said.
Romano encourages all local artists from painters to singers to crafters to bring their work down to the store and talk to him or Abell about consignment.
“There’s so much talent here,” Romano said.
Romano expressed concern that so many of Valdosta’s talented people take their gifts and move away. He and Abell want to harness this local talent, show it off in the store and allow it to give back to the artist as well as the community.
Though every store does have kickbacks, these two are not just in it for profit.
“It’s about living your dream,” Romano said. He and Abell are now doing just that and hoping to better their community in the process.
Romano does want to stress that Divided by Zero is not a “head shop.” They will not be selling any synthetic drugs, such as Nightlights, Daylights, or K2. Though there is no hookah lounge in the shop, there will be hookahs and shisha for sale.
According to the shop’s Facebook page, “At Divided by Zero our goal is to offer you the latest, most amazing and innovative selection of gadgets, gizmos, electronic items, novelties, games, and lifestyle enrichment gifts…So please, visit us often for things you never knew existed, but simply can’t live without.”
Romano explained, “People say dividing by zero is impossible. Well, you can’t spell ‘impossible’ without ‘I’m-possible.”
The store at 2001 W. Gordon Street will be open every day from noon to 9 p.m. Additional parking is available behind the building as well as across the street at Nine Eye Tattoo and Greek Row.