Most small business owners know the exact date their lives changed forever. “Sept. 20, 1996,” Michael Vartanian replies immediately to the question of when he opened Marina Bay Watch Company.
For Vartanian, the son of Armenian immigrants, what has become a thriving family business has jumped a few high hurdles to land where it is now — in the mini-mall sharing space with Wharo Korean BBQ and Walgreens on the southwest corner of Lincoln and Washington boulevards.
At age 16, Vartanian received an offer he couldn’t refuse: a job at a watch shop in Lakewood making $4 an hour (minimum wage then was $3.25). He stayed there for nine years, learning the business. Over time his plans to attend medical school and become a pharmacist changed. Vartanian liked repairing watches.
“I love dealing with people,” he says. “I’m a people person. I love to make people happy and see them smiling, thanking me a million times.” …
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