The decision to move the world headquarters of Your Daily Fiber to the charming old house was an easy one. Wait a minute, it wasn’t easy at all. We agonized about it for weeks.
Life was pretty good in our old store in the office building. Our sales were good and getting better. If it wasn’t for the substantial raise in the rent payment, we might have stayed there. We had everything we needed sales floor, a dye room, reasonable parking. (Hey, I had a place to park!) But we thought being in an old house in Old Town would be too cool.
Two years ago, we moved into a beautiful old house that had just about everything we could want in an old house. (except a place to dye yarn.) It had a parking lot, a fairly new remodel, an eager landlord, (more about that later) and a fire station with handsome firemen right next door (more about that later, also). Moving to this house came down to one thing, can we sell more stuff there? We moved in.
We agreed to a lease with the building owner to lease the building for two years and purchase the building at the end of the two years. Seemed simple.
At our grand opening celebration a husband of one of our friends informed me that one of the window frames was broken and the window could not be locked. “Hey, thanks for telling me that, I’ll get the landlord to fix that.” That seemed like a reasonable plan, except the landlord took the position of, “This is going to be your building, why don’t you fix it?”
Finding parts for 120 year old window is surprisingly hard. And don’t think you are just going to put new windows in a building the has been declared “Historically Preserved”! For two years that window was never locked.
That turned out to be a blessing. The 120 year old lock on the front door worked about 70% of the time. It was handy to have an open window to crawl through if you need to sell yarn or use the restroom, you know things like that. Yes, a slightly overweight senior citizen will crawl through an unlocked window if he needs inside.
A couple of our customers asked if we could make the building wheelchair accessible. That seemed like a reasonable request. Elaine and I arranged a meeting with the city building department to discuss wheelchair requirements. While those discussions was going on we also discussed removing a portion of the parking lot for a dye garden.
The city was really helpful. They gave us permission to leave a check for $4500 for the purpose of reviewing our requests by the zoning dept. If approved by zoning, along with our request to remove a portion of the parking lot and create wheelchair accessibility, we would also be required to add storm sewer, lighting, two more trees in the already tree covered parking lot, and concrete curbs to the property.
The city informed us the building was located in the 500 year flood plain. Any changes to the property would require the building be brought to new standards I was a little confused, the building was has stood for 120 years and it will not survive another 380 years regardless of what we do for flood control.
Driving away from the meeting with the city planners, I used construction language.
In the two years we leased the building, we had contact with the firefighters only once. I walked into the building one morning and I smelled natural gas. I wasn’t sure it was natural gas until one of the customers mentioned the building had an unusual smell. I walked next door to the fire station for the purpose of asking the firefighters to check out the smell.
Fire MAN: What can I do for you? Me: I think I have a gas leak. Fire MAN: Where do you live? Me: It is not in my house, it is in the business next door. Fire MAN: I’ll get the Captain. Fire MAN: Captain, this man thinks he has a gas leak. Captain: Where do you live? Me: It is in the business next door. Captain: OK, you’re going to need to call the fire dept. Me: Uh……I’m standing right here. Captain: We need a call from our dispatcher, Ah hell, I’ll call it in myself! Me: Now we’re are getting somewhere.
Two minutes later Your Daily Fiber was swarming with geared-up firefighters. They located a problem with the furnace. Yep, we had the pleasure of taking care of that one also.
These kind of events started making me look around; the stairs are loose, the roof is leaking and the exterior needs paint. The basement apartment sewer backed up every summer (the landlord did take care of that). Elaine, Ivy and I started thinking, wouldn’t it be great to add another line of yarn? But we need heat, and air conditioning, and..and..and.. I’m not sure the bloom was off the rose, but the rose was drying out a bit.
One morning I walked in just before Ivy opened the store. A hummingbird followed me in the front door. It flew around the sales room for awhile and landed on the window valance. I asked Ivy to get a broom for me and I would shoo the hummingbird back out the door. We turned on the lights and the hummingbird took to flight. Except it wasn’t a hummingbird. It was a bat!
The bat flew right at my white-hair covered head. I swung the broom at him, he changed course. I swung again. Strike two! One more swing and I knocked him to the floor. I hate striking out and refused to do it. I opened the door and swept him out on the sidewalk.
Out on the sidewalk he displayed his displeasure with the turn of events. He was showing me his angry little teeth. I instructed Ivy to call Wildlife Control. Before Wildlife Control arrived the bat regained his senses and vacated the premises.
Did you know by using the internet you can hire “Batbusters” (like Ghostbusters but for bats)? Batman came out and assessed the building. He didn’t find any sign of any bats on the inside of the building. He suggested that we do a little maintenance to the building to assure the bat does not return. Yep, we had the pleasure of paying for that one also.
That was the end of the bat story, but the decision was made. Either the landlord lower the price of the building and reimburse our out of pocket expenses for this old building or it was time to move. He didn’t like that idea.
We have a great new place; key word new. Great landlords, great neighbors, (even a coffee shop and a brew pub) and plenty of parking. Come see us.
I told one little fib in this story. While cleaning the building, before locking the doors for the last time, (on Halloween) Ivy found a deceased bat in the shrubbery outside. I think I might have hit him out of the park.
Ivy (and Elaine) didn’t want to come to work until Batman assured them there weren’t bats in the building. Personally, that confused me. They always hang bats and spiders around for Halloween anyway. I don’t think anyone would even notice it was June.
Our crazy lives!