Back in 1974, a lady named Helen Burgess who was a housewife and a mother of 3 children, decided she wanted to start a business. Her husband, George, was working for the phone company and agreed that now that their son Danny was 16, he could watch his sisters after school while Helen was at Copy Mart.
It did not take long, this small copy center was off and running. Helen’s children were passing out fliers and her husband quite his job to work beside her. This Ma and Pa store was a hit.
After a few years they moved the store to 1102 North Brand. Years went by and Copy Mart became known as the place for not just copies. Helen and George have notaries, they had mailbox rentals, fax service and more. They had hired people, people could set up accounts and they were doing money transfers. There would be times that it would be so crowded that people would be lined up on the side walk.
On March 14th, 1995, Helen was worried about not hearing from her daughter, Crystal. She went to her daughter’s apartment and found her dead of an overdose. Soon Helen’s health went down hill and by October, the doctors gave her 3 months to live.
“The 2 girls who were working at Copy Mart were moving on,” Tina, who is now the owner, “I, by chance, came into the place and meet George who asked me if I was looking for a job. I wasn’t at the time but I said yes. After talking to Helen, she said I would not fit in and I went home. By the time I got there the phone was ringing and it was Helen. She wanted to show up for work the next day and I’ve been here ever since.”
Helen and Tina became friends. Helen did not have any real friends because she spent most of her time at work. Now that Tina was at Copy Mart, Helen could take more time offs. Tina lived down the street from her. After Tina hired and person to help at the store, she would spend her free time with Helen. At times Helen would get confused and call Tina by her dead daughter’s name. Tina didn’t mind.
Helen was in and out of the hospital almost every other month. George was beside himself with worry. Tina told him he should take Helen to see a different doctor. At first he said no, but soon he gave in.
With the help of this new doctor, Helen seemed to improve. George was taking Helen on vacations while Tina held down the fort. Helen was getting out more and but she still was not in the best of health.
On October 31st, 1998, Tina took her daughter, Sarah, trick-or-treating at the Burgess’. Helen asked George to take Sarah while she had a talk with Tina.
“Helen was very calm. She told me that she was comfortable with dying now and asked me to take care of Copy Mart and George. She knew that George and I were not the best of friends, but she just smiled and told me things would be all right.”
Helen died on Thanksgiving Day. Tina was good to her word.
For 4 years George and Tina would drive to work together, work side by side and learned to become best friends. After work they would go to Tina’s apartment, watch a movie and have dinner. Most times George were only at his condo to shower, sleep and do laundry.
Right after Helen died, their son Danny moved in with George. Tina could tell they were not getting along. His son was only supposed to have stayed just long enough to find a job and get a place of his own. George spent money for Danny to go to networking school and was very upset to find that after all was said and done his son was still living at the condo. When Danny did come to Copy Mart to work, George turned his back. As soon as that happened, Danny went to goof off. It was not working out.
“George would tell me that he had to do something to get Danny off his butt. George loved his son but he was at wits end on how to get him out of the nest.”
It was late 2002 then George ask Tina if she wanted to buy Copy Mart. He had tried to sell the place but had no luck. Tina knew that things were getting slow. Soon George would want to retire. Tina agreed to buy the place. Soon after she took over, George asked why she was not living with him. He didn’t have to really talk her into this. That April, Danny moved out.
Danny did not seem to mind. He still came over to visit and sometimes work on Saturdays. George was happy that not only Danny was on his own, but also he was in love with Tina and she and her daughter was moving in with him.
George was 14 years older than Tina. Even before she moved in with him, some people thought they were married. Now that she was the boss, things began to really change. Instead of both of them working every Saturday, they took turns. Tina hired a 14-year-old boy named Lex to work after school. At first George was against it but soon he treated him like a son.
Tina and Helen loved getting on the computer. George was not interested, but soon after Tina took over and moved in, he learned to get online. He loved it to the point that he would get up about an hour early than Tina and Sarah so he could have the Internet to himself.
George was in his 2nd childhood. At work he was still the businessman, but more easy going. After work, he was a 12 year old. He called Tina “Mom” and Sarah was his little buddy. At first he fought it like a fish on a hook, but Tina soon had him taking vacations, trips to the fairs, going to parties and living a full-life.
More than once he asked her to marry him, but she felt she couldn’t. Tina knew he was still in love with Helen but that was not why she kept saying no. She had a bad marriage with Sarah’s father for 23 years and was scared to try again. George did not give up. Christmas of 2005 he asked again. She said yes and they were going to get married on his birthday October 14th, 2006.
It was Mother’s Day of that year when George told Tina that the doctor told him he had 3 months to live. The Big “C” got him, cancer. They spent the day crying. George did not want anyone to know. Tina agreed. Of course they told Danny, Sarah, and a few others but for the most part, no one knew.
They never got married. George died Aug. 5th 2006. Danny died 6 months after his dad died. Tina tried to keep Copy Mart going but without George by her side, Copy Mart started going down hill. She moved it to 1138-A North Pacific in hopes that things would change for the better. To this day, she is there trying to keep her head above water, but Copy Mart is where it all began and is where it all will end.
I never knew Helen or Crystal, I only saw Danny once or twice, but I always looked forward to going to Copy Mart and seeing George and Tina. After talking to Tina, I now understand why she keeps the place going against all odds. I, for one, wish her the best and hope that the people of Glendale will read this and know that Tina is one of a kind.