Out of Business

Out of Business


This morning I drove past a large store building on the main street of our small town. The building is empty. It has been vacant for 7 years. The location used to be the home of a medium to high-end clothing store that had been in business since the 1920’s.  The last owner ran the store for about thirty years. Even at the end, with the store competing with Walmart right here in town and many other retailers in new shopping areas less than 20 miles away, the store supported the owner’s family and provided employment for a couple of full-time clerks. It was forced to close because the owner of the building was demanding a substantial increase in rent.

Now the building sits there empty year after year.  The clerks both retired; the shopkeeper got a job in a department store in a nearby city and the building’s owner now receives no rent at all and has been unsuccessful at selling the building as well.  I cannot think of any way that an empty building would be better for the owner’s personal economy than the continuation of the rent at a level that would have allowed that business to remain open.

Empty buildings in a small town are sad. Profiteering at the expense of small town lease holders who can’t afford big city rental rates is also sad, and in this case was distinctly counter-productive.

I wonder if that building owner ever regrets that he did not work harder to help his renter of 30 years remain in the building.

If he had stuck with him and helped him out, perhaps the money in his pocketbook would not have been greatly increased, but I think he would have been a better person—and for the last seven years, he would have had a renter.

Perhaps you don’t see the relevance of this story to you personally, but if you are one of the many people that have a house or building for rent, it may remind you not to price yourself out of the market.

Betty Killebrew

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