Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A city under a cloud...

Our fair city, once a bustling river port, is now a fading memory of it's former self...
six blocks of wonderful turn of the century architecture.
Shop after shop closes down, unable to maintain, as a city administration allows it to die.
A few years ago they took out the parking meters, BUT, the ordinance was way too vague
for ordinary humans to comprehend...
Three hour limits were set for each space, which is great for shoppers,
BUT...
it has been consumed by uncaring business owners, their employees and low-rent tenants.
Never a space left for shoppers, as every three hours you can stand in front of your empty shop and watch the dead-beats walk out and move their vehicle to another space.
It closed my shop down and many others and we all say the same thing...
PARKING!!!
Oh yeah, and a side note, there is a free parking lot one block away and a metered 10 hour parking lot a half block away...
go figure...sooooooooooooooooooooooo...

Our local mall is being renovated after years of neglect and HUGE rents and is desperately seeking tenants...so Piper and I drove out yesterday to check out the spaces available.
This space was once a restaurant and has tons of windows, right now they are covered in paper so you can't see the mess inside while it awaits someones vision to start anew.

OK, so try to envision Friends' Candle Shed opening up shop in this quaint lil' space...

This would be the mall entrance after it's door are installed again...

Black, red and white checkered tiles, hanging lights on every window, great for displays and is about the same size that we have right now.
Can you feel it yet...
We will paint the ceiling tiles black and the walls an industrial gray.
There is also a small bar sink which would be perfect for 'The Soap Bar' to set up shop, as we all know that handling fresh bars of home-brewed soaps can be messy.

We love the look of the red ceiling fans...there is an ol' timey feel to this space that would easily pull off a country look, a garden look, a french bistro and with the wall of stainless steel from the former kitchen, we could actually do an industrial look...

So whatta ya think...are we nuts(don't answer that)...
We are right near a major entrance where 'Tan World' just opened up and has tripled their biz since moving here..
A gourmet sub shop, 'Jimmy Johns' is opening across from us, and 'Berlin's Pro Shop' silk screen' is right next door...hmmmm...T-shirts...
Down the center is a clothing resale store, 'Shop to Drop' that has tripled her biz since moving out of the downtown and is opening up the space right next door too, for kids' clothes...
A Christian book/card store has moved in from the downtown...same scenario...
tripled biz.
Hazel Greens' bridal shop and alteration biz moved from the downtown 5 years ago to the mall, biz is booming and she will open a tea room next door to her store soon.

So all in all Piper and I have made a decision, something must change
and if the city won't...we must.

This means in the winter months we won't have to wait days for the streets to be plowed, all the leaves from the landscaping trees won't be blowing in the front door, PLENTY of parking right out front...

and best of all, we may see the mall-walkers back and new life set to a once packed mall...
It's a start and I think we will pull it off...

If you build it, they will come!

13 comments:

Spadoman said...

Sounds like you're ready to make the plunge and start a new shop. Best of luck if you decide to do it.
The downtowns are crumbling and have been for a long time. Some small towns have reinvented themselves with antique shops and second hand stores, but the show stores, dress shops, clothiers, bakeries, dry cleaners, are all but gone. Left are the insurance sales, banks and hair stylists.
I travel a lot and this is what I see everywhere I go, and I mean, everywhere. Every small town and even some of the bigger ones.
Too bad really. And I think it is not just the fault of the city and the parking. Large corporations had a dsay in it as well.

Peace.

Golden West said...

My strongest warning would be - read the fine print and the "triple-net fees". These are the "fix it" fees divided between tenants according to square footage. When a store goes empty, your fees go up and there is no cap to how high they can rise. Parking lot needs repaving? Your triple net goes up. Christmas lights on all night long - you're paying for it! Property taxes rise - you pay for that too - it's all wrapped up in the triple net, including repainting the outside, garbage collection, a new roof, air conditioning unit needs repair, landscaping, restriping the parking lot - any expense the owner may incur on the entire building - you pay for it all through triple net. A friend just closed her store when her triple net went from $200 to $2,000 in one month because a large tenant moved out. Be sure to check it out! If you're in a strong enough position, you can negotiate to get those fees waived, but get it in writing!

willow said...

Go for it!!

Tallulah's Antique Closet said...

It is too bad the city planers were no able to talk to other cities. Who have had great sucess with doing great things in the old downtown areras of town. Like Old downtown Pasadena Ca. Who were able to bring in big name stores in to old town. Your old town looks like it would have that potential. Plus it has the advantage to be close to a river for a small boardwalk. I wish your city the best of luck It is a small treasure...Julian

cconz said...

That's a tough one sharon. It's not always greener on the other side. Golden west was right. I have a friend that sells his candles in a mall and his payment rose 4000.00 a month. He's not there now.

Callie Magee Antiques said...

Your downtown sounds like ours. My store is located on the historic downtown courthouse square. Sounds quaint and lovely, right?
It is but we are facing the same difficulties as you. They had taken out the meters and established a 2 hour parking limit. Then the City takes away funding for the meter maid. So who marks tires and issues tickets? Not anyone.
The courthouse employees and lawyers park in our spaces in front and our customers cannot.
They even go out on work time and move their cars. Some don't even do that. Like you, there are 2 employee parking lots free a block away. They won't use it.
We appealed and begged to city/county leaders and nothing was done.
Our business is so bad that many stores are becoming empty. If I did not have retirement check from my previous job I could not make it either.
No one listens and a great little town goes into decline.
I sure can relate.
Lois

angelandspot said...

Looks like a great store setting but I know nothing about running a store in a mall so I can't really offer you any help there. I do know that I don't like going to the mall. There are just too many people and crowds for me but that could be very good for your business.

Linda said...

Sometimes you just have to give it a shot...I wish you good luck and LOTS of customers!!

Lori R. said...

glad to see new life and ideas coming about for two of the most gifted, talented, creative people I know. WooHoo!!!!! It's time and you now have found the place... Watch out Scratchy, mama's got a new gig!
P.S. Kisses to Scratchy as she recovers from surgery!!!

donna baker said...

Sharon, you said it. If you build it.... You'll just have to make it work. Don't forget to book groups for soapmaking parties and for the kids too. Maybe offer beads, etc. Branch out. Show them how to make the lye soap the pioneers did. It is great for fleas by the way. Knocks them right out. I know you can do it. You're so talented.

Pam said...

Sharon,
I don't think you are crazy at all. It takes guts and lots of hard work...and money to get started--but you won't know until you try. I too am thinking about expanding, takes a lot of planning, but you can plan and think yourself to death! I so enjoyed meeting you finally and your soap is unbeatable--remind your daughter that I want her candles too!!!LOL Best of luck, I can't wait to come back to Iowa. I love it.
Pam

Greyscale Territory said...

I can feel the rattle of new ideas charging around at breakneck speed! When the pace is so impassioned, it must be right! Here you go again! Ahhh sister! You are one crazy lady! Just love it!
(I am barely home from school after teaching all day + parent-teacher interviews at night! Wound up and can't wind down! So here I am!)

Garden Antqs Vintage said...

Sharon, you'll never know unless you try and if it doesn't work, well you've gained insight and can hopefully move on. But who knows it could work and that takes a lot to try something new in today's economy. Good luck my friend, T