Wow, things have moved so fast since my last post I barely know where to begin. Its 2.30 am here at the house and I've just been putting the finishing touches to our backlog of web sales from the past month.
Why do I have a backlog you ask?
Well we have moved the shop. The whole kit and kaboodle has been moved from the centre of Cardiff to Whitchurch an outlying suburb of Cardiff. Its been probably the most consistantly stressful and hard going periods I've had since I first opened the shop.
Why did you move?
Well to cut a long story short we could not negotiate a reduction with the landlord on our rent despite a 70 percent downturn in traffic to the arcade due to Europes largest construction site being on our doorstep. We also had been waiting for almost 8 months for a hardship reduction to our Business Rates which was being continuously delayed by the Valuers Office. This combined with our lease coming up for renewal and my relationship with the Landlord reaching breaking point over his botched attempt to auction 350 thousand pounds worth of the shops assets to cover a 20 thousand pound bill made only one option feasible. Moving the shop to a cheaper location and then attempting to consolidate my position and hopefully ride through the financial chaos that I think will be evident over the next twelve to eighteen months.
My Landlord gave me the easy option as well and offered to take back the lease amicably without the need for courts, bailiffs and any other costly but heavy handed methods. He gave me the four days to vacate the premises and take all my stuff with me. He also implicity stated that he would then let the matter lie which in the long term means that any debts associated with the landlord are also going to be waived. Probably because of the bungled auction I assumed but that is another entirely different story. LOL.
Still that gave us the slim chance to find a new place and Haydn stepped up to the plate on that one and after a quick call to the council we found a property in Whitchurch that had been vacant for some time and would be substantially cheaper to rent. To put it in context the Wyndham Arcade used to charge us 16 thousand pounds per annum which would then have VAT added and business rates of 11 Thousand pounds per annum.
The new place has a rent of 2 thousand 8 hundred pounds per annum with 488 pounds per annum business rates. A massive drop in overheads which hopefully will consolidate quickly and enable us to grow and continue to prosper despite the Global Economic Downturn.
Anyway back to the main part of the story. The Move.
We only had realistically two days to vacate the shop as our 5th Anniversary Party was on the Saturday and we would have to make announcements at that event whatever happened. Leaving us Sunday to Tuesday to pack up and leave.
With Haydn having located the place and the council granting us a licence to store the stock at the place until the lease could be finalised our plan of action was in place. At the party that night we announced to all in attendance that we were moving and where we would be going. We then managed to get everything packed and moved although the Landlord at that time graciously granted us a few days extra as it was a massive job.
By the time we had moved the last box to the new shop it was completely full from floor to ceiling with boxed goods, tables and shelving. Our licence said that we would not be allowed to re enter the premises until after the lease was signed so Haydn and I took a week off as we were mentally and physically exhausted by the whole process. I can honestly say that I was very ill for the first four days but by the end of the week I was recharged and ready to go. The council then gave us unofficial permission to begin putting all the shelves up and tidying the interior of the shop up. This we started. Literally a month later on the Saturday morning of 8th November we emptied the last box and opened the doors to customers for the first time. In the 3 working days since over 70 of our standing order customers have returned to us and others have rung and told us they'd be visiting us shortly to sort things out. Its been a mixture of terrifying and hopeful over the past month and I am so glad that things look like they are working out. Not just for me but for Haydn who could have lost his job if things hadn't worked out.
Our plan is simple. At this moment we will be consolidating the shop as it stands. My priority is to get the website fully operational over the next month with all products being relisted and to get as much local advertising around the Whitchurch area and spread the word that we've opened.
In six months time we will then begin investigating the possibilities of moving back close to where we were in Cardiff. We have found a place that would be suitable and the rent is only slightly more than it is in Whitchurch but it would require a lot of investment capital to bring it up to spec. I will have to wait until the current recession is over before I'll realistically be able to raise capital for this though so it has to go on the back burner for the moment. I am calling this phase two. Phase One is now fully operational. Yay!!
FUNNY CONVERSATION OF THE WEEK!
7TH November 2008 10.30 am.
I'm on the phone to the Council. ME : Hello could I speak to Spike Lomas please?
THEM : I'm afraid he's no longer with us.
ME : What do you mean? Has he died?
THEM : No, umm he's just no longer with us. He's retired.
ME : But he sent me a letter giving me todays date as the day we sign the lease.
THEM : Oh well someone else has been given his case file.
ME : Thank god for that I've got the grand Re-Opening tomorrow. I've spent a hundred quid on the invites alone. (nervous laughter) You had me worried there for a minute. Could you put me through to him then?
THEM : Unfortunately no. He's not in the office.
ME : What?! I'm Re-Opening tomorrow. What the hell is going on?
THEM : Well obviously you can't open tomorrow and your licence to occupy the premises has actually ended today. Theres nothing I can do. Maybe you could ring the legal department. I'll ring around the different offices and see if I can get someone to help.
After that I had a series of conversations... I spoke to Llandaf North Councillor who basically managed to rattle enough cages to get a licence for me to open until the lease is signed. More importantly they aren't charging me until its sorted. Every cloud really does have a silver lining. Imagine my heart sinking though when I was initially told I wouldn't be able to open. LOL. End of the world stuff...
This is Kristian Barry Last Survivor Of The Comic Guru Signing Off.