Move off the highstreet??

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Move off the highstreet??

Postby BlueSkyArt » Wed Jan 13, 2016 10:52 am

Hi all. Please bear with me. We have a shop and workshop directly on the high street. We've been here for about 5 years now. We rent the property and in general it's not in a good state of repair. There are various leaks which we have tried over and over to fix but the problem is the roof. Our landlady claims to not have the funds to do any structural work and within the next 5-10 years there will be some major problems which could ultimately mean having to move premises. Worries for another day. In the meantime though our shop is really nice (we refurbished it about 15 months ago) and we do really well with framing and general print sales.
Our dilemma is that we've been shown a place about 100 yards away from our shop which is soon going to become available. It's located down an offshoot road from the high street. Pros, Its a much bigger property. It would mean a workshop more than double the size of what we currently have (it gets cramped with 3 people framing in here), a bigger more open showroom area, an office and even room for a small gallery as well if we wanted. It's cheaper rent too. Cons, it's up a small flight of stairs and its currently used as a storage/dumping area and needs a fair bit of cosmetic work but the building itself is sound. I know we could make it look really good (like a barn conversion) and make the new property work for us but is it worth losing my high street spot and moving slightly off the high street and up a flight of stairs in exchange for more space? There are not many other serious framers in the area and we have a very good customer base and reputation (from what I've been told) and I don't think the move would cause too much harm long term. Any thoughts/experiences would be really appreciated. Thanks for reading :)
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Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby Jamesnkr » Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:29 am

Cons, it's up a small flight of stairs

A way to kill passing trade. Only you can judge what proportion of your business comes from casual punters and the value of a shop window with a clearly open shop - as opposed to a sign in the street saying "Blue Sky Framing - upstairs".

Your building looks as though it may have residential above it; if that is tenanted - rather than occupied by your landlord - then the Council's environmental health department will be delighted to help the tenants get the roof fixed.

What does your lease say about landlord/tenant repairing obligations? If it was properly drafted then it should cover this point.

And what are your liabilities when you leave the current property? Can you get out of the remaining lease - particularly given what you say about the state of repair of the property?

Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby Jamesnkr » Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:50 am

Jamesnkr wrote:What does your lease say about landlord/tenant repairing obligations? If it was properly drafted then it should cover this point.

It's quite likely that [there is a good argument that*] it is your responsibility to repair rather than your landlord. Moreover, as you accepted the property when you commenced the lease, and thereby impliedly accepted its condition, it is possible that even if you leave the property you continue to be responsible for the costs of the repairs.

I am not a lawyer, but you should tread very carefully with the repairing obligations of a commercial tenancy.


*Commercial property leases, particularly where there are common areas, as potentially in your case, tend not to be open and shut.

Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby Whitewater Gallery » Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:52 am

Friends opened a natural stone flooring company in an converted barn in a busy petrol station on the busy A road between Daventry and Banbury in the middle of a village called Byfield. They were there for 3 years, advertising every month to generate business. They then moved 100 yards to a shop, by the pedestrian crossing, with nice window frontage, and never had to advertise again.

Similar for us, we were previously been involved in a small Gallery under a busy cafe but set up some steps on the main road through the village. We now operate in a prime location 300 yards away in the middle of the village. It is twice the size, the rent about 10 times as much, but then so is the turnover and profit.

We also opened a small Gallery in Port Isaac last year. It adjoins the main estate/letting agent (customers renting holiday cottages collect their keys from here) and is by the Co-op (only food store in the village) but it is set back from the road about 3 car lengths and people don't seem to make the effort to take the slight detour and have a look. In Polzeath you almost walk into us on the corner and while many of our customers have not been interested in "art" they have noticed greeting cards, postcards and some of the low cost quirky items in the windows and have come in to buy these. While the type of visitor is very different to Polzeath sales have been disappointing, and even rent free I am not sure if we will keep it on.

If you make the move I would suggest that you take any saving in rent and put it into advertising to make up for the lack of natural footfall in the new position. Not an easy decision but sometimes these things are out of our control. I would try and make it known that you are in the market, but not in a particular rush to move you might be surprise at what might come up. For us we thought there was no hope of a shop coming up in Polzeath. The guys that own our unit have a larger shop opposite, and 2 in other towns. Our unit was usually emptied into the larger shop at the end of October and they just ran that through to Easter. We just asked if we could put a sign in the empty window to promote our Gallery under the cafe and found ourselves opening a Winter Gallery in the empty shop for the Christmas period. I guess we now pay them a large part of the profit that they used to make from their shop and have one less unit to manage.
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Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby prospero » Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:10 pm

My first workshop was upstairs. You got to it though some double doors straight off the pavement. Not a lot of room to even put up a sign. But it was surprising how many folks came in. Even one little old lady who struggled up regularly under the impression it was still the hairdressers. (They moved to the shop beneath so that little old ladies didn't have to struggle up the stairs. :? ) I could have sold a lot of invisible hair nets.
Anyway, my Landlord was a nice old lady who owned a lot of property in the area. She wasn't particularly concerned with the rent, as long as I kept the place in a reasonable state. She charged me £10 a week and never increased it for the ten years I was there. The property did have a few idiosyncrasies. The wiring was a bit ropey and the prevous occupants had wired in a lot of extra sockets for hair driers into the lighting circuit. The fuse box dated back to the 1920s. There were round-pin sockets that had been wallpapered over. The plumbing was done to clever either. The hairdressers had taken out all the sinks and not capped off the pipes properly. So a few floods here are there. Fortunately, for me at least, the water ran down to the shop below, which was where the hairdresser had moved to. :lol: But the roof was sound so no problems there.
After a few years a shop on the ground floor became vacant. There was no internal access between the two properties, but the nice landlady was OK about me knocking a connecting door though. It was a wonder that the whole building didn't collapse but I did it anyway. And she only charged me £18 pw for the downstairs shop - much to the chagrin of her land agent. :evil:

So the moral is: If people want you they will find you. :D
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Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby IFGL » Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:15 pm

My experience is, location is key, you simply can't beat high footfall (if you are retail), we have both high street and just off high street location, the way we have done it is, a smallish high street shop with no equipment other than pos computers, and a large off high street shop with everything in it, very low rent, they are about 6 miles apart, both have a very high catchment area, the small high street shop takes at least 4 times the retail business.
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Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby Not your average framer » Wed Jan 13, 2016 10:54 pm

Hi Matt,

As you will remember, I have been in your shop and said hello a few months ago. I formed a very good impression of both your shop and the street in which you are located. The rest of the street is full of nice quirky and interesting businesses and obviously is good for foot traffic added to that the amount of cars parked on this street probably means that a lot of people park there when visiting the town's main shopping street and many will take note of what businesses are in your street.

I thought it was the ideal location, but perhaps you are now approaching the time when a move is becoming your next logical move. Obviously the issue with moving is weighing up and managing / mitigating the risks. If you can adequately address these risks, then all well and good, otherwise be very careful.

As the prospective new premises are quite a bit larger, is there room to share with another business which would help to add to your own customers by getting business from some of their own customers as well. This is quite a well proven idea and can work well for both businesses, if both businesses are drawing a worthwhile number of customers.

Before the recession, there were more galleries in my own area and some of these used to invite various people for promotional wine and cheese parties, etc. Obviously this was to promote the work of a featured artist and allow customers to meet the artist in person, but if you have plenty of customer addresses on file then this could be a good way to accquaint these customers with you new location.
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Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby simoonez » Sat Jan 16, 2016 9:20 am

We've moved off the high street mainly to reduce overheads and it was a really good move. We're now on the edge of town in an area of redevelopment with barbed wire fences and an abertoire to get past to reach us. Sounds bad I know, but our existing clients were happy to find us and their recommendations keeps us going. We've never been busier. I think as long as you've got a decent client base you'll be good, and with increased working area you may be able to increase your services. Starting in a hard to reach area is difficult, but as you've got your regulars and you're only moving round the corner I'd say its a good move in principal.
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Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby prospero » Sat Jan 16, 2016 12:50 pm

One important factor that people tend to overlook. Parking. Your premises are much friendlier if folks can park right outside. Shops where people have to circle round for half an hour in heavy traffic to find a parking space. Pay dearly for it. Then walk a few hundred yards to get to you are at a big disadvantage. By the time the punters get to your door they are likely to be in a bad mood or out of breath. Then they have to carry all their frames back to their car. Maybe two or three trips. I know, I've done it in the days when I used to get frames made. People have been spoiled by the big edge-of-town shopping centres. I very rarely venture into the centre of Lincoln nowadays. Just recently I made a couple of trips to take my aged father to his bank. Even with a blue parking badge it was a performance. At least I didn't have to carry a lot of frames. :P ** After that adventure I took him to get some new shoes at a shopping centre. He only had to walk about 30ft to the front door.

It's worth noting that there are no framers in Lincoln city centre now. Even when there were, people who lived in Lincoln or on the outskirts would drive ten miles to me rather than venture into town.

Of course it will depend on the nature of your business. If you do off-the-wall pictures or gifts and wotnot it's no use being down a backstreet or on an industrial estate. But anyone who's main biz is turning out frames needs to be easily accessible.
I have a big free car park right outside and even a handy little pull-in right outside the front door. :clap: :ninja:
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Re: Move off the highstreet??

Postby Steve N » Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:54 pm

I agree with the parking issue, customers often remark that it's great that they can park right out side our workshop, we walk straight out and load their cars for them also boating customers can moore right at the back of our workshop :)
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