How One Couple Runs a Business in Retirement

After stepping away from their careers, an Ohio husband and wife started two websites that, like their marriage, are thriving

by Nancy Collamer • Next Avenue
bob and jo ann shirilla image
Photograph: Courtesy of Bob and Jo Ann Shirilla

Have you ever considered the possibility of running a business with your spouse during retirement? Would you dare?
Working alongside your partner is clearly not for everyone. After all, many couples have a hard enough time agreeing about the basics for their retirement, like where to live and when to retire.
Semi-Retirement Work, Travel and Fun

But as Jo Ann and Bob Shirilla of Poland, Ohio, discovered, sometimes working together can provide a surprisingly enjoyable way to earn an income, travel and have fun experiencing a period of semi-retirement before settling into full-on retirement.
For most of their 39 years as a married couple, the Shirillas pursued two very separate career paths. Bob, 64, worked for 30 years in the information technology field and Jo Ann, 62, ran and operated a retail gift shop, which gave her the flexibility to care for their two daughters, Amanda, now 33, and Angela, 32.
But when Jo Ann decided to close her store in 2000 at the same time Bob was ready to retire from his full-time corporate work, their professional paths intersected.
Jo Ann needed to get rid of her store’s excess inventory of throw blankets and other gift items and Bob had the tech know-how to help her do it effectively, so the couple put up an e-commerce website, Keepsakes 
Etc. The site ultimately evolved into a place to buy personalized gifts online. “I was neither financially nor emotionally ready to fully retire,” Bob recalls, “and after our daughters graduated from college, I felt we could take a financial risk.”

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First Published Fri, 2013-02-22 12:23

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