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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: SOS Yorick
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1311  Thursday, 29 June 2000.

From:           Tanya Gough <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Jun 2000 10:25:25 -0400
Subject: 11.1305 Re: SOS Yorick
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1305 Re: SOS Yorick

To try to make a very long story short:

The Festival approached me and the woman who owns the Juice Bar next
door (between Poor Yorick and the Avon Theatre) last September, telling
us they were planning a 12 million dollar renovation of the Avon in
2001.  Part of their plan included moving their theatre store from
across the street into the space we now occupy, so their store would be
part of the Avon lobby.  The Festival does not own this building, and
the landlords would not sell (I know - I tried to make a bid on it later
to save the store).  The Festival, in a "gesture of good will" offered
to pay our moving expenses.   This was all well and good, since I
already had my eye on the Ontario Street block.

Shortly after, I found a store on Ontario Street that would have worked
very well for the store (the current location of Angie Strauss Clothing,
for those who know the geography), and we went ahead with a proposal for
us to move immediately.  The Festival offered to cover only a fraction
of our moving costs, and ultimately, I turned them down, expecting a
second round of negotiations.  Two days later, the owner of Angie
Strauss decided to stay, and the entire process was stopped.

What came out of this experience was a strong understanding that the
Festival was not willing to pay a fair price for my removal in 2000,
since that would leave them with an empty spot with no purpose for the
next year.  It also became very apparent that the Festival was in no way
ready to actually negotiate or go forward with the part of the process
that affected me or the Juice Bar.  Typical of the way the Festival does
business, they had come to us before they had even completed a
feasibility study or finalized a budget for the project.  Meanwhile, we
were forced to stay put for a year, unable to move even on our own
dollar, since no one in Stratford will touch a spot that the Festival
has their thumb on.  In the meantime, every one of the locations we had
scouted and deemed appropriate for the store changed hands last winter,
as I watched helplessly.

So we struggled through the winter, not knowing now if we would be able
to move at all or be forced to close.  Meanwhile, the Festival began
negotiating with the Juice Bar for their location.  Ultimately, the
Juice Bar settled for $52,000, a generous offer considering they were
planning on moving out of town anyway, and the final dollar figure was
within a few thousand dollars of what they had asked for.   Part of the
deal included negotiating a deal with our landlords for a 35 year lease
on the space, at a rate which is currently more than 40% higher than
what I pay.  They have also written in a clause that says that they must
take my space whenever it becomes vacant.

Suddenly, the Festival turned to me and told me that I was welcome to
stay in my current location if I chose.  If I chose to leave now, they
were willing to pay a settlement, but the price they have offered me to
close down is less than they have given the Juice Bar to close.  And
while I do have an option to renew my lease for an additional 5 years
after February 2002, my lease is based on "prevailing market
conditions."  And since the space next door is now worth 40% more, there
is a very good chance I may end up with a 40% rent increase if I chose
to stay.  This of course is also contingent on my landlords and the
Festival not finding another way to force me out of my lease when it
comes due.

So, here I am, facing a 40% rent increase if I stay, no place to move to
even if I wanted, or a settlement to close that will barely pay of my
existing loans and force me to close a viable business at a considerable
loss.  The Festival refuses to negotiate further, and the General
Manager of the Festival, Antoni Cimolino didn't even show up at our last
meeting which was supposed to outline final terms.  Instead, they sent
Martine Becu of the Theatre Store, who has been acting as liaison and
has had, from the very beginning, no power to negotiate on behalf of the
Festival.  To add insult to injury, Mr. Cimolino was sitting in his
office and watched us go into the conference room and sat there watching
us go out without so much as acknowledging me.  He was also not too busy
to get a haircut that morning.  I know this because my store manager's
girlfriend works at the hair salon.

I will continue to do everything in my power to make the catalogue
survive, but I hope you can understand that if I am forced to close at a
considerable loss that I may not have enough resources to continue.  I
worked this store for 3 years without taking an income, and we are just
now at the point where I could sit back and relax a bit, knowing that my
expenses are finally being covered.  Closing now would mean not only the
immediate losses incurred by having to sell of stock at below cost, and
lost investments on unreturnable stock, but it also means I will never
be able to recoup the cost of surviving those first few years.

I hope that answers some of your questions.

Sorry I missed you last weekend, Joe.

Tanya Gough
Poor Yorick - Shakespeare Multimedia
 

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