I met Marty in 1980. I was at the club on Homestead Air Force Base with three of my best girlfriends. That night something happened in the club and the police were called. Marty was a K-9 officer.
The first thing I noticed was his shiny boots in the dimly lit room. Then the lights came on, and I caught his eyes at the same time he caught mine. It was instant attraction. He came over to talk to me, and he let me know that he was interested, but I didn't want to give him my number.
I was kind of a wallflower at that time in my life. I had already been married and divorced. I had a young son who was three years old. I wasn't looking to get into a relationship, and I had rule that I wouldn't date anyone I met in the club.
But, Marty was persistent and such a gentleman. He came back after he finished work that evening, and he sought me out.
About a week later, we went out and I'm very glad that I did. We had a wonderful time. Our relationship grew and I fell in love with him. We had nine amazing months. Then, he was re-assigned to Guam. Being so young, both of us were afraid to tell each other how we truly felt, so we parted as friends. I moved on with my life and he moved on with his. I raised a wonderful son, got a good job in telecommunications and I remarried, but I never knew the same love or passion that I felt with Marty.
Kay's Designer Consignment
In 1999, I was well into my career at the phone company. Then, I became ill with Meniere's disease, which is an inner-ear disorder. I was suffering terrible vertigo and was bed-bound for 18 months. I was placed on short-term disability, which led to long-term disability. I had surgery, which stopped the vertigo but left me deaf in one ear. Finally I was able to return to work.
After being back at the phone company about two weeks, I had this feeling: I don't think I want to do this for the rest of my life. It wasn't a fun job, and I was realizing life was too short. I resigned my position.
This was around the time that online selling was really kicking up. I had already sold some of my collectibles online, and I knew that I could do more of that and make a living. I started visiting consignment shops and attending auctions and estate sales. I would buy and re-sell unique items online. Then, in November 2002, I noticed a "For Sale by Owner" sign in one of the consignment shops that I visited. I am a people person and I was feeling increasingly isolated working out of my home. So I spoke with the owner, negotiated a price and made my decision that evening to buy the shop. I felt confident that I could make it work.
In the consignment business, people bring their items in that they are no long using. We sell the items, and then split the proceeds 50/50 with the consignor. My first week I broke every one of the previous sales records, and they had been open 13 years! One year later, I moved to a larger space in Ormond Beach, Florida. Kay's Designer Consignment was growing! The quality of the items I was receiving was improving constantly. On top of that, this business was perfect for me since I love people and I was able to meet so many every day.
In June 2006, I was at work and got the worst headache of my life. The headache did not go away, and after numerous tests I was diagnosed with a spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leak. The pain was debilitating and indescribable. At that point, I started to really look at my life. This was my second serious illness in just a few years. I had been in an unhappy marriage for more than 20 years. I thought, If I get through this, I'm going to make a change.
It took me over a year to find a surgeon that could isolate the leak and repair it. I had surgery in December 2007 and for the first time in 18 months, I did not have a spinal headache. A few months later, my marriage ended. I was determined to rebuild my stamina and health, take control of my happiness, and to refocus on work. I had a whole new outlook, and I now know that my illness was a gift and a wake-up call to start enjoying every aspect of my life.
While I was so sick, I had kept the business afloat but just barely. I wasn't making the money that I needed. My son, who is a computer programming instructor, told me, "Mom, you've got to get with the times and get your business on the Internet. Facebook is where it's going."
So in 2009, I decided to make a Facebook page for the shop. To do that, I had to make a personal profile first, so I did. That proved to be a turning point in both my business and personal life.
Meant to Be
One night with not much to do, I started browsing on Facebook looking for people I knew. I thought of Marty, who I hadn't seen or heard from in 28 years. I often wondered what happened to him and if he was OK. So I searched for his name, not really expecting to find him. His profile was the first one to pop up. He didn't have a profile picture, but I had a feeling it was him. It took me a little bit to get my nerve up to send a message, but then I thought, "What do I have to lose?"
I took the chance and I sent him a private message: "Is this the same Marty that was in Homestead in 1980/81 with the Air Force security police?' If so, it's Kay and I am wondering how you are."
My heart skipped a beat when I received a message on Facebook from him a couple of days later. We messaged back and forth, and eventually I gave him my phone number. That first day, we talked for seven hours. Over the next few weeks, we continued to catch up and it was clear that there was still something between us -- even after all those years. I had been married and divorced. He'd been married and divorced. It was unbelievable how it just seemed that we were meant to be a couple. After a few weeks he told me that he was still in love with me, and I told him that I too, loved him. Sight unseen!
Marty had been making plans to come and visit me. Then, he called and told me that he could not come see me and then leave me again. He asked if I would fly to Salt Lake City where he was living, and if we could drive back to Ormond Beach together. He said he was going to sell his house and move to Florida.
I immediately said yes! I just knew it was completely right. I had the love and support of my family and I was going to go for it. In September 2009, I flew into Salt Lake City and back into the arms of the love of my life. We drove to Florida together and it was as if we had never been apart.
Our Business and Our Future
I asked Marty to work with me at the shop. He was hesitant at first, but gradually he got more and more involved, and now he's made such an improvement there for me. We work together like a machine. We don't have to even say any words. He can spot what I need done. We both know what we sold. We know what we have in inventory. We talk about different ways we can make our customers happy or make our consigners more satisfied. We're in this together now. It's our business and our future.
Marty and I are now happily married. I feel so lucky to have gotten a second chance with him. I'm still in shock that this wonderful person was available. He says the same thing about me. We are so compatible and enjoy the same things; we have so much fun together. Every day is a gift.
You know, with consignment clothes, shoes, handbags and jewelry, it's all great stuff. The consigners wanted it at some point, but for some reason they don't want it anymore. Rather than throwing these things out, they bring in these beautiful items that aren't right for them right now. Then somebody else is going to come along and love it.
It's the same with Marty and me. We have been through other relationships that weren't right for us. It's not that we aren't desirable or wanted. We still have a lot left to give, and it is beautiful.
We just needed a way to find each other, and Facebook was the way.
To hear Kay's story in her own words, check out the video here.
Kay Gibbs Martinovic lives in Ormond Beach, Fla., where she runs Kay's Designer Consignment with her husband Marty.