A Healthy Bet
This little shop was one of many laying empty. We were barely halfway to our 24 reopened premise target (2012) when we bought this building. The example here was a closed down bookmakers. When the gaming industry starts shutting up shop, you know the local High Street is in trouble!
Old Closed Betting Shop (c) 2002 Argyll Group plc Collection
A reasonable tidying up – repaint the outside/renovate the interior – and then we looked for someone who would otherwise have left the local community for the bright city lights to employment opportunities elsewhere, which act as such a drain on the young resources of many a small community.
We looked, and looked. Then ramped up the newspaper advertising from local to regional. Fortunately someone from within the county replied. A stack-it-high-sell-it-cheap retailer. They opened their business in our building. Then arose a problem we hadn’t factored in. Somewhat loudly the local Justice of The Peace who owned the main newsagent in town shouted across the street one day “you’re putting me out of business”. Not the most elegant ways of making a point. Crossing the road, the writer of this page engaged in a diplomatic chat. Explaining to the upset gent., the intent was not to open a shop which would cause another to close down, but to regenerate and revitalise many empty buildings.
A frustrating element to this was the chap who yelped was a local councillor and knew we were trying to regenerate closed buildings. Fortunately the councillor was talked round, and we learnt a lesson:-
LESSON: When re-opening a closed business, make best efforts to have a tenant that doesn’t compete in a way that causes another business to be compromised/fail, or close down.
A good hint is to literally open a copy of the Yellow Pages and look at all the thousands of different types of shops that can be opened. There are lots of different styles and genres of business to choose from as prospective tenants. For this closed down property, the stack-it-high-sell-it-cheap retailer business quickly outgrew the building, and he asked to be released from the lease.
A new tenant soon came about, and was one of our all time favourites. We had concerns her business might not do. It was an aromatherapy and holistic health therapy shop. In fact it did do, and with style. With the internet becoming a game-changer and causing several major high street retailers to go out of business, the challenge was, and is on to find a way for small shops to survive. Indeed, to thrive by analysing and creating shop based businesses that do well in spite of, or preferably in complement to the internet type of sales business.
New Business For Disabled/Agonised Backs (c) 2004 Scots Lion Collection
The tenant in this particular building we refurbished and reopened didn’t pay rent for two years. She tried to, goodness knows, every week, on the due date the rent was there. It just wasn’t accepted! By this time family and friends were each buying up empty shops such was the success rate of the empty property reopening initiative. The family member owning this shop, as landlord, and also working for the local Harbour Authority as an assistant Harbour Master, had a bad back – made worse pulling ship ropes. The general wear and tear that comes with several hundred tons of metal floating about the sea was taking a severe toll on health. So a weekly deep tissue massage was provided by the shop tenant in lieu of rent. The best rent that was never paid! The business from these premises thrived. Many people have bad backs, and the owner of the business, a diminutive lady, had the most fearsome elbows which she jammed into the seized up gluteus maximus in the most pain inspiring way. The brilliant thing was you could hobble in to this building, almost on crutches, have the deep tissue massage, and by the next day it appeared as if a miracle cure had happened. Non invasive pain relief of the most fabulous kind.
Time has moved on, and the lady exercised her option to buy the shop. To this day she is missed. Following a move by the writer of this particular page of the Scots Lion website approximately 300 miles from this shop makes getting the old spine repaired a little difficult because of the long travel distances.
However, one of the wonderful things about reopening closed buildings – fate, good fortune, or whatever you want to call it – often arrives and brings a cure to many ills. This was one such example. A brilliant tenant helped to repair a run down landlord, when the object was for a landlord to help renovate a run down shop!