35 South Pleasant Street, heart of downtown Amherst
If only a business could run on heart, good intentions and enthusiasm, the enormous failure rate in the start up year would be -- like the bubonic plague -- all but eradicated.
35 South Cycle, an aerobic spin class business, opened in town center in January, peak month for the health fitness industry, and closed in late July, the worst month for the industry--especially one located in a college town.
I bumped into owner Jeff Brown during my brief photo shoot and asked him about prospective tenants -- as in what kind of business was he now seeking to occupy his former law office? "Probably not a restaurant," he laughed. Or fitness business. Restaurants are #1 for failing in the startup year and health fitness businesses are in the top five.
Beautiful ornate brick walls, windows looking out onto Main Street USA
With a rent of $3,000 per month the age old wisdom of parents counseling their child about to leave the nest still applies: Rent should not be more than 25% of your income. So if you are going to open a business here, make sure your annual revenues exceed $150,000.
Yes, $3,000 per month sounds like a lot for 1,000 square feet of space, probably a little more than Barry Roberts charges but less than the Grandonico family, downtown landlords who own a significant portion of the downtown.
And this location, location, location does benefit by fairly significant foot traffic generated by adjacent icon AJ Hastings and less-than-iconic Bank Of America (unless of course Occupy Amherst comes a calling).
Opening your own business is like a being a member of the The Flying Wallendas: It takes skill, courage and know how, where the rewards are great and the downside ... well ... death.
Three-out-of-four of these prime downtown storefronts are now empty