Thursday, June 6, 2013

Per Square Foot Perspective

Bakery Captain's Log: Stardate 91035.38

First of all, I don't know why Doss thought I wouldn't enjoy the new Star Trek movie. I mean, popcorn and Zachary Quinto. What else is there?

This is the part of the bakery process where I find the perfect location. PERFECT. Location. PERFECT.

Only here's the thing: there is no perfect location. They're all too small or too expensive or too remote or too expensive or they cost too much. I've looked at just about every available retail location in town, and I've ended up right back where I started with the first place I looked into. It's not perfect, but it's just about a perfect fit for what I want my little bakery to be.

But it's scary, and I've been looking for some validation on this decision. There are a million things that can go wrong. I could, for example, take the kids and dog for a walk, trip on a hole at the park, and sprain my ankle. *Cough*Monday*Cough*. And there are business hazards, too. My biggest fear is, of course, that the business doesn't make any money. Thus, I'm searching high and low for the location with the best value for the rent.

I think I've found it. Well, I'd already found it, but then I second guessed myself and now I'm back to it.

I also found a HUGE source of validation on this location today. That validation was in, of all places, downtown Atlanta! Huh. Who'd have thought?

I took the kids to the children's museum (again! That membership has more than paid for itself this year) today. And what do you know? Right there, next door to the children's museum, sharing a wall with the downtown Mecca of kids and their parents' checkbooks was an empty commercial space. It was advertised as a location for "food or retail" at 1920 square feet. Of course, I was curious. Of course, I called.

Now, the inside was pretty stripped out. The build out on that place would be comparable to most of the build outs around our town- basically, starting from scratch. So that part didn't bother me. I was just sure, though, that the rent would be hilarious. I mean, downtown Atlanta, across the street from the World of Coke, sharing a space with Imagine It, right there at Centennial Olympic Park and the aquarium and everything... my guess was $10K per month. And that would be reasonable for all the business that location could bring and the prices you could charge in that neighborhood.

It wasn't $10K.

Now, you may recall the part of this bakery adventure where the City of Auburn flat refused to grant a grease trap variance so that I could open in that great location. The grease trap installation of the trap they require was cost prohibitive and the final nail in the coffin of my willingness to navigate the unfriendly waters of opening a business in Auburn.

When the realtor for the Atlanta location mentioned a grease trap, I felt my hackles rise and my stomach sink. He said the city (of course, it's Atlanta) requires a grease trap. Then he said...

I swear, I'm not making this up...

He said they would help with the grease trap and vent hood installation.

What the what?

The big, BIG city realtor and owner are more accommodating than those in the "friendly" small town? They would eat some of the costs of my build out? Couldn't be. This rent must be huge. $12K?

It wasn't $12K.

To put the Atlanta shop's rent in perspective, one location in Auburn was going to be $2000/month for about 1500 square feet. One location in Opelika was $1700/month for 1400 square feet in a pretty rough location. A more desirable location in Opelika was $2450/month for 1500 square feet. A pretty good location in Opelika was about $2000/month but it was HUGE- about 3000 square feet. Now, those prices include the fees you pay to contribute to the upkeep of the shopping center (CAM or HOA  or whatever they call it, depending on where you are). Are you with me?

Yeah. Including the extra taxes and HOA fees, I'd be paying $2900/month for the 1940 square feet in downtown Atlanta. Next door to the children's museum. Across the street from the World of Coke. Literally attached to an apartment building full of cake eating families.

Less than $3000/month. And the super nice realtor said the price was negotiable. Negotiable. That's practically a guarantee of profit.

If I can get that much sweeeeeeet shop location in Atlanta for $12/square foot (before the extras), I can afford to be discerning in picking a shop location in Opelika, right?

And so, today's adventure in the big city was a beautiful answer to my prayers seeking validation and reassurance. I like numbers and math. Today's numbers make me much for confident of the path I'm currently on.

Perspective. I has it.

I feel so much better now.

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