Have you ever been sitting at your job, going through the mundane day-to-day descriptors of your job role, waiting for lunch time, waiting for quitting time, dreaming of where you pictured your life being at, at this point in your life? Chances are, unless you’re living your dream, you’ve been in this position before. Wondering what your next career move will be, whether you’ll win the lottery and forever travel the rest of your life… It happens, more than one might guess.
Mike Bushman, a Vero local since 1987, experienced career FOMO and corporate lack of enthusiasm at one point. He is Vero Vine’s next “Coolest Personality” and the owner/operator of Recycled DVDs, located at 937 7th Avenue in Vero Beach.
“There was a store I frequented in high school that sold used LPs,” Bushman said. “It was called Recycled Records. I pretty much based my entire shop after memories of that store. It’s very lo-fi, very mom and pop, lots of personality with very little flash.”
Bushman once served as the Event Services Manager at historic Dodgertown. In his 17th year of employment, Bushman found himself daydreaming of the DVD shop he now owns, and although grateful for his longevity with the company, was prompted one day to go to his General Manager and advise him of the plan he had for his dream coming to life.
“I took the $54K I had in my checking account and opened Recycled DVDs,” Bushman explained. “That was eight and a half years ago and I haven’t been happier since.”
That level of courage, of diving into the unknown, is quite spectacular.
“I have chosen to open a store that carries merchandise that very few people have an interest in at the moment,” Bushman shared. “However, those few people who do have an interest are passionate about it and very grateful for the service I provide.”
“My underlying mission is to preserve all of this digital media so that it will be around for future generations to enjoy,” Bushman said. “If history has taught us anything, it’s that a human’s emotional attachments may be severed, but they always grow back. Right now there is a huge resurgence of popularity in vinyl records and old Nintendo cartridges, and believe it or not, VHS tapes.”
Bushman pondered on how at one point, people threw all of the aforementioned technology into the dumpster without a second thought.
“This is where DVDs are right now,” Bushman explained further. “This isn’t a newly introduced concept, either. Look at how much old baseball cards and comics are worth. I love knowing that because of me, people will still have DVDs twenty years from now because I’m rescuing them from the trash man.”
Bushman said he professionally refurbishes everything that he sells and is often commended on his top-notch customer service and attention to quality, as well as fair pricing.
As for his self-image of coolness stature?
“I have sang and played lead guitar in a heavy metal band and gotten to spend a lot of time around celebrities and sports stars, so others would probably think of me as being a cool guy,” Bushman said. “However, I’m barely able to keep my facade of self-confidence in place at times, so I try not to think of myself as being cool for fear of dispelling the illusion.”
As for the future, Bushman hopes to transition to a larger shop eventually.
“My plan is to have my shop act as a transition point to old age and retirement,” Bushman shared. “I don’t have any family to worry about and I own a home, so I can live quite cheaply.”
A minimalist, of sorts. With a passion for DVD’s, and sharing that love locally. His “awesome” customers, Bushman says, are the other part of his job that he just can’t get enough of.
“Just imagine working at a place where it’s guaranteed that no matter who walks through the door, they’re gonna wanna talk about stuff you like,” Bushman pointed out. “I’ve made several good friends and dozens of casual friends over the years.”
When not at work, Bushman spends his free time watching movies, listening to music, and playing video games.
His love for Vero revolves around the community and those in it, and the beauty that can be found within the city.
“Be it the landscape or the wildlife, you can point a camera in any direction and have a good chance of taking a pretty picture,” he said.
As for his past, Bushman likes to reminisce about the seventeen years he worked with the Los Angeles Dodgers through his time at Dodgertown.
“I got to see and do a lot of stuff that hardcore baseball fans would kill for,” Bushman explained. “I’ve worked with much of the front office staff on side projects and even did an assignment with Dodger photographer Jon Soohoo. The video footage I took ended up in a PSA in Los Angeles. When the Dodgers left Vero, I was one of 7 employees [out of 250, he said] asked back to help rebuild the technical infrastructure when MLB first took over and renamed the facility Vero Beach Sports Village.”
Bushman has an extensive history with semi-professional advertising since he was only 13 years old, and pointed out that his first published work paid a whopping five dollars.
“I have had many pieces appear in the Press Journal from as far back as 1989,” he said.
Aside from work and his hobbies, Bushman has been on a health journey and recently lost 80 pounds through diet and exercise. That venture began after he said he had a high blood pressure crisis a few years back and was told he had to be on a strict regimen, including over two hours of exercise per day and avoiding eating out so as to closely monitor the food that he eats.
“I have one cheat day a year where I drink alcohol and eat as much as I want,” Bushman admitted. “Otherwise my life is quite sedentary as my arthritis often hampers my mobility.”
Simple is cool. DVDs are cool. Bushman turning his health around is definitely cool. And being a small business owner who supports other small business owners – cool as well.
Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, was Bushman’s role model when he was growing up, the business owner pointed out. His biggest supporters?
“Anybody who loves movies or old video games and loves to see the American dream in action,” Bushman said. “Many of my customers make it a point to tell me how much they enjoy supporting small business.”