Local couple hopes to turn life around through national web series

Bill Clarke and his family once lived the American dream. But now their personal downfall and hopes for redemption are receiving national attention.

"As some people might say, I was in the one percent," said Bill referring to the 99 percent "Occupy" movement this past year.

At this moment, Bill imagines he's at the bottom of the 99 percent and that's why Yahoo News has chosen the Clarkes for the "Remake America" web series.

The series highlights six American families dealing with the hardships of the recession.

At the height of his success, Bill owned two homes, and he and his wife, Donna, were set to retire at the age of 59.

"I was an executive for a large supermarket chain most of my career," said Bill. "I was also the executive for a pharmacy chain as well."

"I did all the things wives of executives do," said Donna. "I never went to extreme. But I did shop, and we did travel a lot. My children never wanted for anything."

But the Clarke's dream soon faded when Bill lost his health and his job after suffering a stroke.

"It just comes on really fast," said Donna. "It's one day you're here and he's normal. The next day part of him is gone, and your whole life is turned around."

Bill's health improved to a degree, but he admits he came back to work too soon.

With medical bills piling up, he risked his entire life savings and his homes to start a hardware store in Myrtle Beach.

But this time as the little guy and owner of Bill's Hometown Hardware(, he found out it's difficult to compete with the larger chains.

"It's just tough for a new business to get off the ground fast when you have limited capital," said Bill.

Now the bank is foreclosing on the one home he has left, and lenders are trying to take over his business.

"I'm getting to a point now where business has picked up enough I can make a partial payment," said Bill. "But they don't want a partial payment. They want the whole back amount."

While the Clarkes are dealing with their own worries, they're also faced with the fact their daughter, Erin, is facing foreclosure on her own home in Charleston.

The web series will also spotlight Erin as she deals with being a single mom of twins that lives with another single mom to make ends meet.

"That hurts us much more that we can't provide for her like we would like," said Donna.

"It's only a recession when it affects your neighbor. It's a depression when it affects you," said Bill as he quotes Ronald Reagan.

The Clarkes hope the show will help them save what little they have left.

As an agreement to be on the show, financial and marketing experts give the Clarkes advice on how to turn their business around.

"We'll see payback there someday," said Bill. "I just hope someday is this year because I don't think I'll be given anymore time than that. 2012 is it."

The Clarke's "Remake America" segment will air next Monday, March 19th on