Another Sammamish business is being forced to close because Regency, the Florida company that owns almost all the commercial space in Sammamish, is hiking the rent to a level the store cannot sustain.
I spoke with the store and Regency wanted to triple their rent.
Plateau Spirit and Wines spent $220,000 to buy the liquor license when the state privatized liquor sales after the 2012 election initiative. This investment is down the drain; the owners can’t move the liquor license out of Sammamish and there isn’t any other commercial space. Saffron, which is not owned by Regency, is full.
Hmm…. Rent suddenly triples for a plaza that has good-enough representation of spirits, for retail space with good demand. No surprise there. Go capitalizm. Three major competitors for prime spirits *in the same plaza*? That’s just not workable. The mom and pop will always lose that fight. The only defense is to create a store that goes gangbusters. Only then does the equation flip and the big retailer, who can live off revenue on other non-competing goods, then gets no quarter against a little store knocking the cover off the ball. I never saw the liquor store super busy, whether the state owned it or it was private.
I feel bad for the under powered mom and pop shop. I felt bad for the yogurt shop that opened in the Sammamish Highlands right after Yo Plateau. At least there the dollars simply went across the street, not out of town. Still, I had a problem with Regency for not knowing what Saffron had cooking up when they signed the yogurt place!
The only defense against this kind of thing is to ensure there is enough retail space that offers alternatives to Regency properties. If the liquor shop can simply move down the street, Regency renters lose the sale, Regency gets less. In that case, Regency would have to think twice before pulling strings so hard.
Our city must entice builders to create more shopping experiences- plain and simple. Right now, that means we need tell our representatives that city resources must be used- revenue, tax incentives, regulatory relief/exception – to entice the builders to take risk in the face of not-perfect demographics. Otherwise, all we can do is just keep feeling sorry for the mom and pop shops as they fall one by one.
It’s always unfortunate when a business is driven out, but I don’t think blaming Regency is who the finger should be pointed at. As you point out, it is the city’s job to provide more space for retail shops so that there is a competitive market up here on the plateau, which in turn will prevent Regency from sharp increases in rent. But if the demand is there for higher rent & a retailer willing to pay it…then I do say “Go Capitalism”, because that is the nature of our country. No, I don’t want to see the Mom & Pop shops fall…I was very sad to see Ace Hardware leave, but I blame the lack of available retail space not the owner’s of the retail space just making savvy business decisions.