Thursday, November 15, 2007
West Shokan's General Store
The West Shokan Curmudgeon reports that the West Shokan General Store will close. According to the Curmudgeon, the owner of the store, Ruth Marzulli, has:
"offered to compromise on the rent and to extend the initial rental agreement. The Mansfields feel that it’s impossible to make the store viable even if the rent is almost nothing. I’m sure there’s a compromise in all this, but it doesn’t seem that the parties will figure it out."
The Curmudgeon suggests that a group might open the store in Snyder's, a bar famous for appearing in the film Wendigo, which has apeared on the Independent Film Channel and elsewhere.
Babs and Phil Mansfield, who moved up from the city to run the store (Phil is a professional photographer as well as a retailer) have done a great job with the store. The food is very good and they sell alot of neat stuff like milk in the old fashioned glass bottles that is organic (bottled by a local farmer), organic eggs and world-class soups, pot pies etc. The store is much more crowded than it was when Weber owned it and much more crowded than when the Marzullis operated it themselves.
Ruth's late husband Jerry had purchased Weber's store and refurbished it about 5 or 6 years ago. Unfortunately, rumor has it that the price was somewhat too high to be justified by the volume. The economics of the area may be that commercial properties cannot command the prices that would seem appropriate elsewhere, such as New York, because of insufficient traffic. It is understandable that Ms. Marzulli does not wish to rent or sell at a loss, and it is also understandable that Mr. and Ms. Mansfield cannot operate at a loss to cover Ms. Marzulli's cash flow gap.
As the Curmudgeon points out, the store is a major asset to the hamlet of West Shokan. For those who do not drink (Snyder's is a commodious alternative hangout if you do drink)it is the only "third place" to meet others in West Shokan.
Ms. Marzulli would probably be wise to compromise on the rent, especially if the Curmudgeon's concern that the West Shokan post office might close if the store closes again is true. If the p.o. does close, Ms. Marzulli will lose that rent as well as the store's rent. If so, she will be holding an expensive property with no tenant and will have to carry the interest (or imputed interest) as well as pay the taxes and maintain the property without any revenue.
It would make more sense for Ms. Marzulli to cover her variable costs and at least part of her fixed costs by offering the Mansfields a lease at a market rate. By market rate I mean a rate that is limited to the store's net income less a reasonable estimate of profit and wages for the Mansfields. I sincerely doubt that another buyer will be able to generate more traffic than the Mansfields have. Commercial properties on Route 28 in neighboring Boiceville have been sitting empty for years.