Friday, August 17, 2012

And Another One Gone

 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


Anonymous said...

Although fully in favor of capitlism, IF the landlord could (heaven forbid!) subsidize the rent -- it would be wonderful to open a fabric shop with sewing machines for rent by the hour. The one in Noho does not have fabrics and their classes are waaay to expensive for plain folk.

Oh yeah. And a shoe repair shop and dry cleaners. What? Have services that people would use?? Too blue collar for yuppiefied Amerst ...

Anonymous said...

There is already a shoe repair shop in amherst.

Anonymous said...

I don't see many landlords going out of business in Amherst. They can afford to sit on these spaces until another sucker comes along.

Anonymous said...

A very, very good shoe repair shop.

Wake up.

Anonymous said...

What did you say? Sorry I was napping.

Anonymous said...

We have a dry cleaners too (Check out Minuteman -near The Sub) They offer mending and tailoring services- and a laundromat

If you haven't noticed- Amherst fashion is quite casual (wash and wear) Not much business for the cleaners!

Anonymous said...

oops- After my response- I did a little online research-
Minuteman Cleaners has bad reviews-

I've used the dry cleaners near Walmart in N'ton...

They clean American flags for free!

Anonymous said...

Folks, buy your own damn building.

Seriously, if you don't like the rents that the current owners are charging, put your money where your mouth is and form something like maybe a 501(c)(3) corporation and buy a few of these buildings and then rent them for whatever you think they should be rented for to whomever you want to rent them to.

Rent is a combination of three things -- the costs of the property, taxes, and profit -- and as I reminded more than a few folk in an earlier life, this includes the cost of properly maintaining the property.

So if you want to see a tailor or a herbal medicine pharmacy or a Kosher deli -- or whatever -- put your money where your mouth is, get your buddies to do likewise and buy a damn building - or build one outright. You will have to sacrifice and won't be able to afford other stuff -- or you will have to go into debt -- but you can do this if you really want to.

Isn't this exactly how the Pomeroy Lane Coop came to be built?

And if you wish to essentially subsidize certain businesses in order to see them in your town, it's your money and you can do this if you want to. And if the rents in Amherst truly are unreasonably high, you will both force them down and possibly even drive "rent gougers" out of business.

And even if you don't do this, if the rents truly are way higher than actual value, there is the classic example of the Dutch Tulip Market. All speculative bubbles eventually burst, and I (personally) would not want to be owning income property right now in Amherst.

And I am not even getting into how restrictions on building serve to reduce supply and thus raise costs of both commercial and residential space in this community....

Higher education is in transition if not a bubble ripe to burst, what is going to continue to fuel the local economy???

Anonymous said...

That block is looking pretty thinly long has the Jeff Bookshop been gone? Three years now?

Anonymous said...

Spin classes? Pleeze! They never had a chance. How many hours of spin classes would you have to teach to meet that rent? They'd have to be full 24 hours a day. It was just the wrong idea for this location. It was a hobby dressed up as a business. Plenty of types of businesses could thrive there. These rents are reasonable for high traffic, high volume businesses. You don't see Zanna going out of business because they've got the right model for their location.