All of the gory details of that and also the reason that I don't sleep well!
(If you plan to read everything, you're going to want to go to the bathroom and grab a drink - this is a long story.
Or, if you want to just know the net result, skip to the very bottom.)
This is partly to give you all of the dirty details so that there can be
NO GOSSIP OR SPECULATION!
And partly to allow me to vent about how HORRIBLE my experience with
The Lively Center in Poway, CA
has been over the last 18 months!
I would like to start off by saying that we were in this VERY shopping center about 15 years ago when Mr. Lively Sr was still alive. He was a LOVELY man. Very kind and generous. That's part of the reason I had few hesitations in moving here.
Boy was that a mistake!
These are just a FEW of the highlights (lowlights)
As you all know, we moved closed at our old location May 2013. The rent at the old location was nearly $10,000 per month and with Michael's moving out of the shopping center, that was the final straw in my decision to move out.
As you also probably know, we had real trouble finding a space to move to.
We wanted to stay in Poway. We NEEDED at least 2,000 square feet.
I wanted to be where we could be seen from the street and near food.
I had HOPED to be in a center with lots of female traffic.
I wanted to move into the shopping center where Michael's moved to. There was a 3,000 square foot space just to the left of Grocery Outlet that would have been great. The leasing agent for that shopping center said that Michael's had put it in their lease that no scrapbook store could move into the center. So, I contacted Michaels' Corporate offices and the reply I got was:
So, that option was out.
There was a nice space in the Stater Bros. shopping center, but it was insanely expensive!!
Everything else was too small or needed MAJOR construction.
So, then there was this space that we are in now. There was no floor in, so that was going to be a factor, but it was big enough and bright. The leasing agent here - I won't use his name - we'll just call him Dick. Well, Dick said he had 3 other companies who were interested - told me all of them (2 of the 3 HAVE since moved to Poway), so I felt under pressure to sign or lose this space. He then told me that they only did 2 year leases and that everyone then went month-to-month under the same conditions and nothing changed. He said that EVERY tenant was month-to-month except for one (I can't recall if it's O'Reilly's or Bellus). Ok, sure. I talked with the former tenant of this space and he confirmed that they were month-to-month for YEARS until they decided to move and it was no big deal. He said that it was a good space and gave me lots of confirmation that all would be well.
Dick also told me that there were no parking issues and if I ever had one to call him and he would take care of it. He told me that everything in the suite was in good working order.
My dad was out here, so I asked his opinion too and we all agreed this would be a decent enough location.
Ok. We signed. We had a new space. I started the process to get flooring and arrange to get moved in. Remember that we had already moved everything to a storage unit because we didn't decide on this space until after we had to be out of the old space.
So, I had center electrical put in for the registers - $1,000.
We had the floor installed - $11,000.
I had the window painted, utilities set up, a new alarm system, etc, etc, etch.
Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.
We rented more trucks and moved everything in. Between moving everything out, and then back in, we spent over $1,000 in trucks and labor - and that doesn't include the TWO giant storage units we rented!
There was no electricity when I signed so I didn't know that the AC didn't work!!! At all!! And it was the depth of the summer so that was no fun! Dick said he would get a guy out. That took a while. Then after he said it was fixed, it still wasn't and Dick had to call him again. It has never worked well, and the sun in the afternoon just BEATS down on the front of the store, so something we didn't plan on is our electrical bill being MORE when the space was much smaller.
Also, the door locks didn't work well and the door closers (what keeps the doors shut and has the "spring" to shut them after you walk in/out) were all broken. I called my guy to look at them and he said that we really needed all new doors - something like $1800 a set! Ok - called Dick - he said he'd take care of it. Some "clown" came out and hammered on them and left - didn't really fix them. I complained to Dick but NEVER got a response.
(Literally, they are so bad that once it was really windy out and all 4 doors just flew wide open).
And the toilet ran constantly. Dick had the shopping center's maintenance guy work on it -a few times because once is never enough.
Do you see where I'm leading with this? Moving in was NOT the best experience. And being closed for 7 weeks with no income, but paying staff to move and set up, plus setting up utilities, and a few new fixtures and accessories - it was all VERY expensive.
And, you'll remember that I had the window painted:
I was going to put a sign up above, but when we moved from our old location, we had to throw those signs out - they were too old so they would have needed to be fully updated, plus every shopping center and suite has "sign criteria" with the city and there was no guarantee that they would be allowed for this space. I had to make an immediate decision - do I rent a THIRD storage space, rent ANOTHER truck to move them, and then store then until I find out? My sign guy felt it would be better to get rid of them. And our old signs were EXPENSIVE and funds were pretty tight from moving and my then fiance not having full time work. So, I just skipped it.
Nothing was ever said from the management or owner. No complaints or comments.
This sign was up for 13 months.
Fast forward a bit... in November 2013, I fell in the parking lot on incredibly uneven asphalt. I ended up fracturing a bone in my ankle and had a brace for quite a while. When I contacted Dick to tell him, his first words were, "Were you carrying something?"
Silly me, I sort of had expected, "Are you ok?", but no - I never got anything like that.
Everyone said I should sue but:
a) I'm not that person and
b) I was thinking, "We only have a 2 year guarantee! If I sue, he'll kick us out!"
Fast forwarding again to July 2014 - one year after moving in - I was in Maine getting married and I contacted my window painter. The Shop Hop was coming up and I asked if he could he change the sign from "CRAFTS" to be our name? He gave me what I thought was a fair price and said he could do it July 5th. PERFECT! It came out amazing! And, I had him do it in a way that it blocked the BLAZING HOT SUN that we got in the afternoons. You could see it coming down the street and I hoped our electrical bill would go down.
Since I never asked to paint the first sign, I never had any idea it would be an issue.
Then I got this email from Dick that read in part:
When I questioned it, I received this:
I asked if there was ANY scenario under which I could keep the sign - pay a fine, put up an official sign too, take it down - get permission - put it back, or????
No answer. Just a letter in the mail stating that I was "in violation of my lease" and I had 15 days to remove the sign. (No ultimatum was stated, but I didn't want to press).
So, the sign had to come down, but I could keep the window painted to keep the sun out and I could paint my name on the doors.
THIS is what was "ok" for Dick. Really??? This is better?
And I couldn't put back the other "Crafts" Sign.
So, my main sign is STILL on the windows (doors) but that was now ok.
And, I've been searching high and low for a picture, but if you recall, I started off by saying that I was in this shopping center about 15 years ago.
Guess what? WE ONLY EVER HAD A PAINTED SIGN ON THE WINDOW THAT SAID
"COOL SCRAPBOOK STUFF" BACK THEN!
Why would I ever think it would be an issue?
And, I find it very interesting that this sign is ok:
The paper front on the word Tan has all but come off.
Until recently, there were pieces that were dangling down (for months) but they have finally fallen off.
And this painting is ok.
It's not seasonal, it's been here since we've been here and, imo, is ugly.
And, I'm curious to know if they received WRITTEN permission.
Keep in mind that I did not get written permission for the first painting.
And, their name is on their window, but that is ok.
And this is not the greatest picture, but this is the ONLY sign they have with their name and it's on the window.
So, now my "Spidey Senses" are activated and I'm nervous that there is more going on. Again, I went and spoke with the person who used to have our suite and he said,
"I bet Bellus wants your space."
My heart sank and I felt ill. We spent SO MUCH money moving there and we signed the "two year lease" because that was their deal and no one seemed concerned. So, we've kept our heads low, but I needed to put up a formal sign! No one could find us!! Every time I called the office, Dick wasn't in and wouldn't be in later. Fine. Email again. But no response.
These are the type of "conversations" we have because he is NEVER in the office.
So, I try to reach him via email:
Try again the following week:
Finally an answer:
Then he cancels:
Then, he wasn't in the office on Thursday.
So, I sent a detailed email and received this reply:
So, more emails to him that go unanswered and I send ANOTHER email:
Finally, an answer:
I reply immediately:
I never heard back. Nothing.
I started working with a leasing agent to look at spaces.
Who kicks out a paying tenant? Someone who has someone else willing to pay more for the space, so now I'm convinced that Bellus wants to expand.
I found a space that I like and I got REALLY excited for it.
Then, a few weeks ago, out of the blue one morning, I get this:
Tom was PISSED!!
He felt we were totally being jerked around and so did I!
But, I told the girls that we had a "stay of execution".
But, now I was worried that it was a ploy. It completely contradicted what he had already said, that we needed to be out by May 31, 2015.
So I replied:
(Where it says <image00x.jpg I've added a screen shot of his emails for confirmation)
This time, he replied immediately:
The leasing agent I was working with was SHOCKED!
Shocked that he would be so rude, shocked that they wouldn't even give us a few months notice, shocked that he never replies, shocked that they think we would actually do it at this point.
So, my leasing agent tried to call the owner directly. To see if he could get anywhere with him. Even just to get an extension until Fall, after Shop Hop, and give us more time to prepare for a potential move.
This was 2 weeks ago.
Again, I'm sure Bellus still plans to expand, but for whatever reason, they now want
to wait but Dick is too much of an ass to just tell us that and
allow us an appropriate amount of notice.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
Basically, the landlord has tied our hands. They will not give us more than a 30 day confirmation of being allowed to stay here and 30 days is not long enough to close out a 17 year old business. Even if I find out Bellus's intended date of expansion, without a formal contract with the landlord, we can still kick us out at any moment with only 30 days notice. At this point, he could even just be jerking us around and tell me on May 1st that I have to be out May 31st!
Like I said, I found a space that I like, and I wish it had been available when we were looking before. There are women focused businesses, food, LOTS of parking....
The ceiling isn't "high" like I like, but Tom and I REALLY got excited about it.
However, in reviewing how much it cost to move last time, plus, the fact that it would be about $3,000 more per month than we are paying now,
and with my husband not working much over the last 2 years, we simply can't afford it.
I thought about trying crowd funding, but just couldn't pull that trigger.
Therefore, barring a miracle,
Cool Scrapbook Stuff will close its doors forever
in May 2015.
(yes, Tom and I are actively playing the lottery and I haven't fully given up,
but we need to be realistic.)
For now, it will be business as usual.
We will continue to hold classes and crops.
We will continue to get new product in.
For now, our Frequent Buyer Program and
Text Based Coupon Program will continue.
Everything will resume as if we are not closing - jic!
We will immediately cease issuing Gift Cards.
I'm kind of hoping that because I went ahead and told everyone "the deal",
that something will fall in our lap! Y'know?
Please support us by shopping throughout our close.
We will probably not start seriously discounting until around May 1st.
NOTE: Most SRM items, NFL, MLB, Wellspring, and Custom will NOT get discounted!
Everything will be for sale!
All fixtures, racks, counters, bookcases, hooks, the floor, the wall racks,
shopping carts, shopping baskets, bathroom fixtures, sample boards, product, etc.
If there is a fixture you are interested in, please let me know.
We will keep a list and start actually selling them around May 1st.
Everything will go to the highest bidder.
I plan to enhance our online after we close, so CSS will still be around.
Maybe we'll do some Farmer's Markets.
Not sure what the future holds really.
But, if you hear of anyone hiring... lol.
One last request...
Please don't bug the staff with a bunch of questions.
There is nothing more to be known that I have typed here
(aside from a few reasons that we won't miss our neighbors in this shopping center!)
But I think that we are all just so OVER this situation!
The last 18 months, our location has been nothing but a hassle and
I know that I'm just sick to death of talking about the whole thing.