ash_blackwell: (Ladies don't do those things)
[personal profile] ash_blackwell
Once again I have allowed a long time pass between posts. I do read LJ almost daily, but the 20 minutes or so I can justify most days doesn’t allow for much more than reading the 40 or so entries that have popped up in the last day. I have finished my chores early tonight, so to catch everyone up on things:

Life has been extremely busy of late. Dave and I have bought the game store from Jeremy with the finalization of the deal happening in about 12 hours at noon today. Thanks to leaving Target's employ back in August and finally getting around to cashing out my 401K and Pension from them this month I know own 1/4 of the store in my own right.

Unfortunately, this doesn't mean I'm not working a second job. I'm just working one that isn't as fond of cutting hours down to 6 per week when things get tight. It's not glamorous, but since people (probably) always need petro and having a sub and pizza shop in the building makes it fairly one-stop, Quik Mart has the great benefit of letting me pull as little a possible from the store while we're trying to survive the current economy with a business in the luxury trade.... Which surprisingly is easier that one would think… Sales are down, but only by 2-5% from last year, not the 40% that mainstream retail is shouting about.

For those not in the know (probably most of you not in Tucson) Dave has been minority owner in a full service Gaming store for 4 years. There have been many ups and downs over the years. The biggest of them was simply that the majority owner was not a gamer and was expecting "real business" profits from a hobby store. We have finally convinced him to sell the store to us for what the inventory is worth + 5% which is a steal in "real business," but I know Jeremy is pretty much convinced we're "suckers" for taking the store off his hands at all since the store is not "profitable." The fact that he defines "profitable" as "able to pay Jeremy $2000+ a month on top of paying Dave $800 to actually work the counter without hindering the ability to bring product in to sell" is his problem, not ours. It can handle giving Dave a raise and still have money left at the end of the month without Jeremy in the equation. That's enough for us to start with.

To add to the headache of the sale, we are moving the store this month. Our 4 year lease was up Dec 31st and the landlord was not willing to let us keep our space for the ridiculously low rate per sq ft we got it for when the business started (there was a road closure that was seriously impairing traffic flows in front of the plaza for the first year of the lease, and the plaza was desperate then with almost all of the "main road" store fronts open). Only now that the road is open, they wanted to triple our rent, which was a huge "NO!" so we started shopping around, and hit another property by the same management company. This set off a red flag at Picor internally and they sent someone over to ask what it would take to get us to stay where we were. That one was easy. "Don’t raise the rent." The gentleman went back to the land of weird physics (The Picor building in town is a upside down pyramid with about a fifth of the tip of the pyramid "buried" underground) and a couple of days later came back with his counter offer: Keep the same stupidly low rate per sq ft (really, it's about a third of the low end average here in Tucson.), BUT move to the minor street side of the plaza into a unit that is better set up for us, but 1000 sq ft smaller.

Hmmm.... Get twice the square footage we can afford anywhere else /and/ be able to put up signs in the old store saying, hey, we're just around the corner drive 500 ft and your at our new store.... AND finally be able to separate my sales floor from my gaming area with a real wall and door rather than an almost empty space in front of my counter?

Only, not so fast….. First they gotta fix a couple of minor things. Nothing we couldn't have done in a couple of days with help from our regulars, but hey, Picor volunteered to take care of them and that was money we could redirect to other parts of the move. Only, we signed the new lease in the first week of Dec and it was Jan already and the work wasn't done and we didn't have the keys. mutter, mutter, mutter.... Well, the new lease allowed for them running into Jan and spelled out that we got the old unit for the new rent rate until their contractors were done and then we'd get the keys and would have 10 days to move. Okay. So I get a break in the rent for the old place while I'm waiting. Alright.

It only took a week after I paid my new rent for them to realize I had 5 "lots" (the old store is technically 3 lots and the new one is 2) and I was only paying for 1 (We got them to give us half of the rent for the first 6 months to cover the moving costs). The contractors were in there very quickly after that. O};-)).

They get the work they promised us done and tell us everything's been inspected, only when we go to get our Certificate of Occupancy we're told there hasn't been an inspection in years, and without the inspections, no CoO. We schedule our own and fail the fire inspection. The sprinklers are not set up right for the current set of walls and the city doesn't have current blueprints... Grrrrrrr... Okay, call Picor to get them to fix the sprinkers. "What do you need a CoO for? You have the key, just start moving in...."


She didn’t just say that, did she?

(For those who have never been in business, without a Certificate of Occupancy in most locales you are operating an illegal business and can be fined (in Tucson $1500 per DAY for every day they can prove you were there). There also can be jail time... To add to our troubles, in the gaming industry internet discounters have done enough damage to the hobby stores that /ALL/ of our distributors require the CoO to prove they are shipping to a brick and mortar store before they will change our address for shipments.... "What do you need a CoO for?".... Stupid b^tch. )

Thankfully we were counting on problems at this point (They were 11 years overdue on a 5 year inspection and 2 1/2 years overdue on a yearly) and asked the Fire Marshall if he would be willing to drop off his findings at the office in person. He had had enough problems with Picor he said that he had already planned on it.

The next morning Picor calls us an tells us that the Fire Marshall was quite insistent that there had better not be a single piece of merchandise in the property until he gives it a passing review and that he will be doing checks and well, obviously there would be a minor delay in our moving, but she would have the sprinkler people there next Friday...

Which is this Friday now... Yea limbo.

But the game room is painted and we're almost done with the new counter and the grease-stained half bare concrete, half ancient tile floor is now epoxy sealed and one colour. The phone and Internet work is being done right now as is the vinyl window signs and setting up moving the lighted sign on the building. Once the sprinkler work is done we can do the rest of the work in the game room (painting designs on the walls, moving the calendar white board, bringing in the throw rugs until we can carpet the old concrete side in about a month's time (carpet tiles are cheap, but that's still March's rent break, not Jan or Feb's.))

Fire inspection Monday, City inspection Tues. CoO Thurs???

As soon as we have the CoO we can have the rest of the store moved in 48 hours.

This is already a lot on the plate, but on top of all of this, Dave and I still have half of the Wedding to do. I say half the wedding because Dave's mother lives in Scotland. She always comes out for Thanksgiving, but as much as she wanted to see her only biological child married she couldn't afford a second 600 quid less than 6 months later to fly out in spring to see the big wedding. So we though long and hard about it and decided that she should still not only see us get married, but be Dave's witness on the marriage certificate. So we went down to the courthouse the Tuesday before Thanksgiving with my parents, and Dave's mother, adopted brother, aunt, and grandfather and had a judge say we are married. I'm now Samantha Hat (Yes, Dave legally changed the last name just before the wedding for those who know the old last name. We don't like his father's side and Dave did not want to continue that name. Besides, most folks didn't know his last name /wasn't/ Hat. We /are/ running "Hat’s Games").

That made Mom happy (Dave's Mom has exactly one flaw: She lives too far away and can't visit for more than a week or two a year. No evil M-i-L here.), but we have a lot of customers who have been threatening dire threats should they not get to see us say "I do". So I'm having a public wedding in Reid Park, not but a mile from the store on the first day of Spring. A couple of people on my friends list have been offered spots in the wedding. I know I need to get back to y'all about dresses. I haven't forgotten it, but it is back-burnered until the Store is moved (As long as the store doesn't take another month... ) Tonight is the first night in the last 3 weeks were I'm not either doing inventory, working on renovating the new store or cleaning up the accounting nightmare Jeremy left me (What do you mean you haven't updated QuickBooks correctly in 7 months!?!)

It’s getting late and I need to get to bed. I will /try/ to update a bit more often in the next couple of months.

Sam Hat
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June 2010

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