Tuesday, June 15, 2004

A Location? 

Manager cased the location at 1433 NW Expressway. The man who showed her the property was the owner of, and his father had built it. It was his first shop when he went into business at her age (he sold furniture), so he bonded immediately with what she's doing.

He's offered to do the bulk of the remodeling at his expense (taking out hte carpet and replacing it with the tile that's better suited for a coffeehouse/bakery, replacing the hail damage on the roof, upgrading the bathrooms to be handicapped accessible, installing a class-c vent, repairing the dock drain, repainting, moving interior walls, etc), he's offered her 2 months free rent, he already spoke to the Zoning Commission and gotten the zoning correct for the bakery, and will split the building insurance costs.

Yes, it is more expensive than the old Spaghetti Factory, but it's still far less expensive than many other places we've seen. It's still inside our affordability range.

The average business rents for $12-$17 a square foot. Spaghetti Factory was $1.50 a square foot, but with no landlord support - it was "as is", and that "as is" was in frighteningly bad condition. This place is $6.00 a square foot with enthusiastic landlord support.

Other pluses for the NW Expressway location: it's inside our target location, it's close to 2 major office towers, and 2 strips of small office buildings, there are 2 multi-level malls less than 2 blocks away as well as 2 strip malls. It's easy access off a major highway from both directions. It has lots of parking and high visibility. It's very attractive from the street. It's right next door to a well-established nursery with whom we already have a solid working relationship (and from whom we will get our plants and our honey). On the other side, sharing the same entry but a different parking lot, is an office tower with occupants that a;ready are anxious for us to open, and when we tell them how close we'll be, they'll swoon with ecstasy. Both malls contain a Starbuck's, a plus because most business advice is to locate near competitors. We're close, but not dreadfully so. Signage is not a problem.

Downside: it's farther from some of what we would consider our core customers (still in range, just a drive instead of a walk): the employees of the 2 major hospitals, and some of the downtown hotels. We are still in a reasonable range for them, just farther away. For people unfamiliar with the area, the entries into the parking lot may be confusing (we have one entry that has a traffic light, and one that feeds oddly off of Classen Circle).

What we've decided to do to alleviate some of this problem is to print a simple map on the back of our business cards, and to include maps on the flyers we leave at the hospitals and hotels.

After the 18 other locations we've scouted out, this one is quantum leaps above the rest. We had a grading system for site criteria that had a maximum of 200 points. The NW Expressway building scored 191 points. The next best place scored 107, but it was rented out to a woman who is opening it as a thrift store. All of the rest scored in the 50's (except Spaghetti Factory, which scored an impressive 43 - and that high only because of the location and price).

Manager will call the Spaghetti Factory owner and suggest that he consider offering to let Fine Arts Major college students rent it for filming horror shorts and to live action gamers. He'd have minimal remodeling to do, adding in even more secret passageways, and placing a small "tavern" at the second floor exit (it's a dock ramp that leads down to the ground floor). He'd make a lot of money if he did it right. The tavern wouldn't be a real tavern, just a collection of picnic tables - the groups would supply their own food and drink, but would need a place to start and end the game, and that would be a perfect spot - they'd enter climbing the dock ramp, be led down to the scary (and currently flooded) basement, have to find their way to the first floor through dead end secret passageways and door that would hide "monsters" and "treasures", make their way through the first floor (which is larger and scarier), find the stairway that takes up to the second floor, and wend their torturous way to the "tavern" through a variety of obstacles, and then out through the dock ramp - game over.

I'll check with some bright folks I know and see if they are willing to take this sort of enterprise on.

Manager, however, has decided all the pros outweight the cons of the NW Expressway location.

He's working on getting a lease drawn up.

Another interesting thing about the landlord is that he holds the franchise for Jamba Juice locally. When Manager told him the Cracked Cauldron was not a franchise, he got this wistful look on his face and he told her a few horror stories about dealing with franchise advertising.

Manager will be seeing the business advisors at the Women's Business Center today about cash flow projections and proof her business loan proposal, her attorney and CPA tomorrow, and with luck, the bank loan officer on Thursday.

The $3,000.00 I set aside from my tax return, an additional $1,000.00 her father gave her (that was unexpected - he so hates to spend money), and the paltry dollars I can spare from my paycheck have taken us this far, now it's time to get more.

Manager will decide how she wants the stock to work, write a prospectus, and start selling some stock (her CPA has a few people in mind who might buy stock), but I'm sure the bulk of our start-up will come from the loans.

The bulk of the available stock will be used as employee incentives - Manager will keep control of more than half of it for herself, of course.

And that's where we are today.

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