About 2.5 years ago we bought a commercial building as an investment. The only thing we could afford was a run-down building in a run-down town. The town has a rustic charm (I'm being really, really kind here). It's the kind of town where on a Sunday morning the coffee shop is not open but the bar is. IT;s a real "wild-West" town. The town can seem a bit rough but it's a real community and the people are wonderful. Mr. Peeveme has been developing the property for the past few years. Everyone in town knows him. Sometimes he can't get work done because people are always stopping by to say hi and see how the building is coming along. The town where we live...we don't know anybody. Nobody stops by to say hi.
The town has a long history. It's the site of a California mission. It was a popular railway stop to pick up cattle from the many large cattle ranches outside of town. It has a military base near-by. It's now part of the wine-growing/tourist industry. The town has had many lives but it's been a long time since it was thriving and it's certainly seen better days. It's pretty much just getting by but hoping for better things just ahead....kinda-of like us.
The building we bought is the old 1950's theater. The mother/daughter owners ran a coffee shop out of the front after the movie business went under when the town's population plummeted during the post-WWII era. The large theater just sits vacant. They owned and operated it for decades. The daughter sold it to us when her mother died and she wanted to retire. The daughter (who must be about 70) lives down the street and stops by now and again.
We are doing the building in phases because 1) we don't have enough money to do the whole renovation at once and 2) the town would not be able to sustain that many retail/office spaces. So the front of the building (the former lobby) will house two businesses.
The renovation cost 50% more than we thought it would and has taken about a year longer than expected. We ran out of money so for about 6 months no work was done while we waited for a loan (and you know what the loan market has been like).
Just because we do not have enough debt, stress, or things to do we decided to open a business in one of the spaces. So in addition to his real job, and his developer side-job, Mr. Peeveme has also been opening a laundry. It's taken forever but it looks like we are ready to open very soon.
I can't tell you how hard Mr. Peeveme has had to work. Research, permits, dealing with the County, fire department, engineers, architects, construction crews, financing, buying washing machines and dryers, drainage, inspections and a million little details that I don't even know about. I am so proud of him.
The second space is not rented yet. Not many people opening new businesses right now with the economy the way it is. But if we can get the laundry running it will help the cash-flow situation a-lot. It would a good boost both to us and the town.
People from my tribe lived at this Mission so I have always felt a kinship with the place. Mr. Peeveme also feels a closeness with the town. For some reason it has just drawn us both in. We can see past the roughness, the empty lots and vacant buildings. In fact, we kind-of like that about the town.
If you are ever driving the 101 North of San Luis Obispo get off at San Miguel and drive through town and stop by and say hi. Visit the Mission and grab a cup of coffee at the old 1930's gas station converted into a cafe. It's one block to the right of our building. Unless it's Sunday morning in which case you'll have to have a beer at the Elkhorn.