Glazed Doughnut Shop in a Dead Man Walking building
One of the really hard things about renting commercial space for your mom and pop business -- which includes the vast majority of Amherst small business owners -- is you have no incentive to put tons of money into the physical structure, since you will only be enhancing the value for your landlord.
Which is why you sign a somewhat long lease at start up, because there are of course finishing costs particular to your business that you can't expect the landlord to cover, but consist of items you can't very well take with you when you leave somewhere down the distant road. Hopefully, for a building you can call your own.
Like hot water heaters for instance. When the Glazed Doughnut Shop first moved into the space formerly occupied by Family Wireless, the hot water heater was the size of a breadbox; and being a bakery you need a fair amount of hot water. So out went $3,000 for a new larger unit with all the copper piping now required to meet commercial building codes.
In all owners Keren and Nick Rhodes, high school sweethearts who now probably see more of their business than they do of each other, estimate they spent $15,000 two years ago on finishing costs that they can't take with them.
Why leave a lovely location with three years left on a lease (and an option to renew for five more years)?
Well, town insiders pretty much now agree that the entire Carriage Shops complex is toast -- actively sought for a classy mixed use commercial/residential complex that will act as a major anchor for that side of the downtown.
And will be great for business in Amherst. But not so great if you are a current tenant of the Carriage Shops. Hence the problem. On the one hand the Rhodes support the revitalization of the commercial complex but can't take the risk of losing the roof over their heads without another place to go.
Meanwhile, a doughnut throw away, a commercial spot opened up, larger and in an even better a location (although slightly haunted by frequent turnover). A perfect port in a gathering storm.
Problem now is they need $15,000 to prepare the new space. A big hit for a small business barely out of their rookie year.
So they are turning to you. "Mm going to try with a little help from my friends." Which of course means a crowd funding website like Indiegogo.
Come on Amherst, we talk the talk about supporting local business. Well, here's your poster family.