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Other community ceramic studios hit hard by Covid-19?


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My small (10-20 member) community ceramics studio has been closed for a month and a half now, with rent and other bills piling up and no financial relief from the government. 

Is there anyone else out there who is struggling to manage a community studio because of Covid?

As far as government relief goes, I'm basically in the government's blind spot. My business is a Single Member LLC, so the Payroll Protection Program is based on my net income from 2019. However, my studio has only been in operation for 1.5 years and I reinvested nearly all of my earnings last year into doubling my fleet of pottery wheels, buying raw materials to mix studio glazes in-house,  and upgrading our storage system. I hardly paid myself anything from the business in 2019 since my margins were still so small, so I barely qualify for any money from Unemployment (which just opened last week for self employed people). Meanwhile, my largest overhead cost *rent* is draining the small buffer I had left at the start of the year. 

The clincher is that I could probably keep allowing studio members to use the space, but I don't feel right about it. Besides, the income from memberships alone will barely be enough to cover rent until I can teach classes again, AND it would be a total headache trying to enforce social distancing in a shared space (aka: I won't sleep at night). I don't foresee myself being able to teach a wheel throwing class until there is a vaccine available for Covid, so I don't think I'll make a dime for the rest of 2020 if I do decide to stay open, and will have to work another job or two to cover my living expenses.

It's such a shame to lose my lease because affordable commercial spaces are very hard to find in my small town, but I can't bear the idea of someone getting sick because I threw caution to the wind to keep my business afloat (albeit barely). I'm a one-woman-show and I already feel burnt-out after the first year of business with no pay (which is normal), I don't know if I can cope with another year or two of financial "survival mode" while I operate at half capacity and wait for things to get better. I'm making preparations to abandon my lease and move my studio equipment to my grandmother's garage (rent free), but in doing so I'll be losing the community and the business/career I've been building relentlessly for the last two years. I don't take this decision lightly, but I know one thing for sure: I can't afford to "go down with the ship" so to speak by taking on 10k+ in debt to keep my business afloat for the next year.

Are there other community studios out there who are struggling with the moral dilemma of shared spaces during the next year (or more) of Covid life?  Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Love from Limbo,

-Hayley

 

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Hi @HayleyPots. My studio has been closed since March 15. I had decided to shut down my classes, and the next day the governor closed the state, so I guess I made the right decision! Word on the street is that we won't stop the lockdown until the end of May at the earliest, so I've got at least another month with no income. I was lucky that I've been open longer than you, and I had a good year last year, and have money in savings that can get me through a few months. It would suck to have to deplete that, though. If my state ever gets the self employed unemployment funds figured out, I'm hoping to take advantage of that and use it to pay the rent. I'm not too keen on taking out a loan, and it hasn't come to that yet. I understand your situation, and the dilemma of having to take out loans or not. I took on a lot of debt to keep my shop open for the first few lean years, and it took a long time to pay it off.

My wife's business, a veterinary clinic, just opened last August, and she's still open through this and staying busy, so I think she'll be fine as long as she and her employees stay healthy. If any of her employees gets sick she'll have to close for at least 2 weeks, longer if she herself gets sick. It's scary, for sure. Like most vets, she's not allowing any humans into the clinic. They get the animals from the parking lot and do the consult over the phone.

I, too, am nervous about reopening safely. I have plans to spread out my ten wheels as much as possible, but it is a small space and there's only so much I can do. I plan to require people to wear masks during class, which I think will be a pretty normal part of life by then.

I also do kiln repair, so I'm hoping I'll have some of that work once things open up again. But schools will be closed and that's a big chunk of my repair business. I built my business with several sources of revenue- classes, kiln repair, art fairs, kiln sales- with the idea that I won't have to depend too heavily on any one, but they've all been shut down so I've got almost nothing right now. Maybe one kiln sale. I don't plan on having an art fairs until August at the earliest, and even then it may not be safe for large gatherings like that.

My classes were only two weeks into an 8 week session when I closed, so even after I reopen I've got 6 more weeks with no income from classes. It's going to be an interesting few months for sure (in a bad way!). The worst part is the uncertainty. At this point the only thing I know for sure is watching my savings get eaten away.

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11 hours ago, HayleyPots said:

t's such a shame to lose my lease because affordable commercial spaces are very hard to find in my small town,

Ya know I am sure this is unhelpful advice but have you spoken to your landlord? Its not like they are likely to have someone take the spot right away. Maybe explain the situation and see if they will agree to move the idle months commitment to the end of lease and give you an open month to get revenue moving again. Since you already have a plan in action a conversation couldn't hurt and since this situation is so fluid they may have changed their tune even if you have spoken to them b4. Just a thought.

So sorry to hear of both yours and Neils troubles. 

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11 hours ago, HayleyPots said:

I can't afford to "go down with the ship" so to speak by taking on 10k+ in debt to keep my business afloat

Ok one other piece of possibly unhelpful advice. If you can manage to keep the studio in place for yourself then the one thing you can do while this is going on is make tons of product. When this does pass and shows come back on line then that huge buildup of product will have value, possibly a lot of value and then maybe a strong show season around your re-opened shop could make you whole on the debt.

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The one thing that is working is folks are thinking outside the box for income-I like the talk to the landlord and see as an empty spot for them is really hard to fill right now. I would start there. They do not want an emepty place either. The other thing that was mentioned is make and stockpile work-which you could also try to sell on the net or to stores that are open like I do in grocery stores now- You did not mention your level of work so maybe this is not an option .We do not know your state as well as they will all do it differently (reopening)-so making plans for having  half as many members and keeping the distancing can start now in terms of planning. I would talk to the landlord soon.

since you can go in you can do things there so thinking about this as an income stream that is different than what you had before.In out state the local private community shop like yours lets the few folks whom had spaces inside the building still do work (3-5 of them)-its just not open for the general public-still open for the few that rent spaces out-so some rent is coming in (this could be another way to scrape by for now for you) They kept the tec so firing still happens when enough work piles up. You need to think differently about the business to make it through this time. It closed enough for the state but still open in a smaller fashion.Renting spaces

Even in good time a community studio takes years to get on firm footings

I hope thier are enough ideas to help here

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One of the pottery studios in my area has put together at-home clay kits that they drop off and pick up for firing, and they return pieces with glaze samples (students request the shop glazes they want), and pick up and fire again. Classes are done on Instagram and Facebook live videos. People are going crazy and looking for projects they can do at home, especially if they’re kid friendly. It’s handbuilding projects obviously, but they’ve been incredibly popular. 

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56 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

One of the pottery studios in my area has put together at-home clay kits that they drop off and pick up for firing, and they return pieces with glaze samples (students request the shop glazes they want), and pick up and fire again. Classes are done on Instagram and Facebook live videos. People are going crazy and looking for projects they can do at home, especially if they’re kid friendly. It’s handbuilding projects obviously, but they’ve been incredibly popular. 

Bingo new way of thinking -as folks still want to learn and take classes-just think about how differently -the above story can work for you during this time. Clay in a sandwich bag for home perfect. Drop off or pick up for firing-bingo its a business on wheels. No need to reinvent the wheel. Just get behind the wheel -automobile wheel that is.

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Thank you all for the thoughtful responses and ideas

@neilestrick thank you for sharing your experience. I am glad to hear your situation is a bit more stable, and I wish you the best in making it through to the other side! My business is set up in a similar way, with diverse sources of income... classes, memberships, gallery sales, art shows, personal art sales on main street, but the combined income has been cut by about 80% and even if I resume my private memberships, I won't make enough to pay myself for probably another year. Unfortunately, I have debts and bills to keep up with so I need money NOW...  let's just say I have a growing sense of urgency as my savings evaporate day-by-day. The only downside to thinking outside the box is that it takes a lot of time and energy to get new sources of income set up, and I can't afford the delay of income. This has been so stressful that I know for a fact that I won't feel creative at all for the next year if I try to keep the business afloat while working a second/third job to pay my living costs. 

I wish I was more resilient, but I was already running low on energy, money, and time at the start of the year and was really relying on time to "replenish" my mental and tangible resources this year. Part of me wants to cut my losses for selfish reasons so that I can retreat to my grandmother's basement without commercial rent hanging over my head. I guess I'm choosing between my own creative practice (peace of mind) and my fledgling business... but I'm fairly certain that choosing one will mean the death of the other.

I have a lot of guilt about cutting my losses and bailing on my lease, but every time I imagine it I feel a sense of relief. Just like you said Neil, the uncertainty is the worst part. If I could see into the future, I could make an effective survival plan. But without knowing... It's hard to throw more time, money, and energy at an ever-changing problem. I'd rather have the certainty of simplifying my life... honestly sounds so nice, in a grim sort of way. 

@Stephen I appreciate both of those ideas. My landlord is a very reasonable person and she actually just offered me 50% discount on next month's rent, which might transition into several months of discount which would really help! I wish I was in the right mindset to make a lot of work, but my creative capacity is at an all-time low right now. Hopefully I catch a second wind at some point...

@Mark C. You're right about my level of work not being up to the task... If I had one more year under my belt, I think I could crank out some substantial inventory but my personal practice has taken a hit while I've been focusing on the biz. Since my landlord just offered me discounted rent, I think I'll be able to hang on a bit longer and invite a few members back into the space, perhaps everyone will be safe with the studio divided into more private work zones... it's a great temporary solution for sure! 

Thank you all for your kind responses, and for bearing with my angst : )

Anyone have a crystal ball laying around?

Love from limbo,

- Hayley

 

 

 

 

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On 4/23/2020 at 5:32 AM, HayleyPots said:

My small (10-20 member) community ceramics studio has been closed for a month and a half now, with rent and other bills piling up and no financial relief from the government. 

Is there anyone else out there who is struggling to manage a community studio because of Covid?

As far as government relief goes, I'm basically in the government's blind spot. My business is a Single Member LLC, so the Payroll Protection Program is based on my net income from 2019. However, my studio has only been in operation for 1.5 years and I reinvested nearly all of my earnings last year into doubling my fleet of pottery wheels, buying raw materials to mix studio glazes in-house,  and upgrading our storage system. I hardly paid myself anything from the business in 2019 since my margins were still so small, so I barely qualify for any money from Unemployment (which just opened last week for self employed people). Meanwhile, my largest overhead cost *rent* is draining the small buffer I had left at the start of the year. 

The clincher is that I could probably keep allowing studio members to use the space, but I don't feel right about it. Besides, the income from memberships alone will barely be enough to cover rent until I can teach classes again, AND it would be a total headache trying to enforce social distancing in a shared space (aka: I won't sleep at night). I don't foresee myself being able to teach a wheel throwing class until there is a vaccine available for Covid, so I don't think I'll make a dime for the rest of 2020 if I do decide to stay open, and will have to work another job or two to cover my living expenses.

It's such a shame to lose my lease because affordable commercial spaces are very hard to find in my small town, but I can't bear the idea of someone getting sick because I threw caution to the wind to keep my business afloat (albeit barely). I'm a one-woman-show and I already feel burnt-out after the first year of business with no pay (which is normal), I don't know if I can cope with another year or two of financial "survival mode" while I operate at half capacity and wait for things to get better. I'm making preparations to abandon my lease and move my studio equipment to my grandmother's garage (rent free), but in doing so I'll be losing the community and the business/career I've been building relentlessly for the last two years. I don't take this decision lightly, but I know one thing for sure: I can't afford to "go down with the ship" so to speak by taking on 10k+ in debt to keep my business afloat for the next year.

Are there other community studios out there who are struggling with the moral dilemma of shared spaces during the next year (or more) of Covid life?  Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Love from Limbo,

-Hayley

 

Hayley I feel for you- I am i a similar position, having just started a studio in March for teaching and being shut down before I could even get started. But I am not in such dire financial straits as you appear to be. How about staging your studio time- allowing students in for an hour or 3 each- one at a time? Is that not possible.That way you get around the problem of social distancing. Put it to you staff and students if they would consider working in this way. I see no reason to feel guilty about that- it is common sense and no-one is at risk if you wear masks, and sanitise the area as much as possible before and after each person. We have to be able to adapt to the "threat" of this virus- learn to live with it, and make intelligent choices. I know Govt.s see fit to make a "one size fits all approach" to the problem but it is not conducive to living intelligently within those constraints and unless they resort to home policing, who is going to object if you start reintroducing people to your space slowly, safely and carefully. If you are really concerned  why not put a flyer in the boxes of your neighbours around and ask them what they would feel if you allowed one student at a time.

Just an idea. I dont know what the situation is like in your area. Luckily in my suburb we do not have police guards patrolling or anything. Hopefully that is unlikely to happen. I would be interested to hear your thoughts. And what others in this forum feel about this.

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@HayleyPots, this sounds like a situation where it would be totally appropriate to use a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the short term. You still have access to the studio, therefore you can make the pots that the donors would get in return. You could tier the donations as “mug” level to “teapot” level to “full set of dinner and salad plates” level. You could also offer gift certs for the gallery, free classes in the future, lots of options. So really this would be a pottery sale more than a charity ask, just using GoFundMe as the platform, and “to pay the rent during the shutdown” as the mission. I bet your existing members/students will be first in line to help out. They care the most about your survival. You can ask them to spread the word in their social circles as well. People who like to engage in the arts know people who think it’s important to have art spaces in their community. What I’m finding is that there are people in our strange current world who are in a position to help, and really really want to help their communities right now. I think you will find that you are not as alone as you think, and how much people do care about the arts. 

The way fundraising generally works is that you are looking for a bunch of small donations ($50 ish) that will add up to a substantial amount. Plus, you are looking for one or two deep-pocketed types who will fund most of the campaign. 

The 50% rent discount is a wonderful offer, and I think you should try to take advantage of it. 

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@GEP Thank you so much for chiming in! 

It's a bit of a funny situation, but I actually ran a full-fledged Kickstarter campaign only 6 months ago (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/224204011/desert-sun-ceramics-a-creative-oasis) in October 2019 and we raised $16,000 to buy 5 more wheels and upgrade our space so we could offer more lucrative wheel throwing classes (totaling 10 students so that I could hire an instructor). Covid is hitting my business just as I finished doing all the upgrades necessary to get my new class schedule up and running and hire instructors. Running a crowdfunding campaign is a full-time job that lasts at least 3 months (in my experience) until the money actually lands in your bank account, and frankly I'm still burnt out from the last one. I live in a small town of only 6,000 residents and it was an epic feat to get enough "donations" from my community in order to reach our project goal... I'm very hesitant to ask people for money again so soon.

I don't mean to shoot the idea down, but I wasn't considering doing it again because it's no small task! Not quick either... 

And I guess this is my inner anarchist showing through: but our government is doing a really poor job bailing out small businesses... I don't think it's the responsibility of my local community to bail me out with their personal money. My town is a seasonal tourist town and most of the people who love my studio have been hit pretty hard by covid as well. I could ask people for help, but I think it's a big ask. 

 

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My advice is to take a month to make some pots. Making makes us feel good, even the poor little orphan pots! I'm afraid nobody here is going to give you permission to give up all you've worked for to lick your wounds in Granny's basement. You'll feel better about yourself when you've made something. And get in touch with your members for more positive reinforcement! If I was your Granny, I'd give you the same pep talks I give my granddaughter. 

Best wishes and stay well :rolleyes:

 

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It will feel great to walk away if you have been super stressed but it's one of your crossroads in life, we all have them and the path you take will prob define you for a while. Nothing wrong with failing, nothing at all and only you can call it.

Failing though really doesn't involve a choice. It's more like "if I don't get my stuff out today there may be a pad lock on the door tomorrow" kind of thing. Should someone go that far? I would say yeah because here's the thing, lots and lots of businesses run on air more often than not in the early years and the juggling and late nights pulls them out of the fire for a bit until the next thing and that bumpy ride will just continue until it just all smooths out and seas are calm. You hit a groove and do more of what works and less of what doesn't. Now if you fail before you get traction then you fail but I have never regretted those because that wasn't a choice it was an outcome. 

Of course this whole pandemic is a whole new thing and no telling if whatever you do now will be for naught later but if you can weather the storm you will likely have defined a huge chunk of your future to be what you wanted it to be and if you go at it with your all until every possible juggle has been exhausted and either you succeed or fail then it will be whatever it is and you will always know you didn't quit. 

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The deck is stacked against small business as a huge % fail in first few years . This will all be up to how you adapt to these times and that will include the future. I started with no capital-no kick starter funds -no family $$-only a huge drive to make pots and keep doing it- I loved the work-the rest fell into place over along operiod of time and work but it was a big battle-way more than 1-2 years with no salary-many a starving year went by-the 1st decade was figuring out what worked. To expect different is not realistic I feel.

Ceramics is hard .I have seen this a lot -just breaking even is tough. Finding the niche is the key element

How adaptive you can become now is the big test. I'm known for tenacity and I think thats what one needs top make ceramics work in the real world . Now with covid its more so.

I'm not trying to sweet talk this just being honest . After hearing about the kickstart deal I think you have way more support than you know.

Edited by Mark C.
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To go further along the vein of "you're not alone" ...  @HayleyPots what you're going through is so common, there is a term for it: The Startup Trough of Sorrow.

This is a common experience because too many new entrepreneurs have overly idealized expectations for how groovy things are going to be, right from the start. What they don't expect is that is takes years of development to get into a groove. It sounds like you were already dealing with stress, burnout, and debt before the pandemic hit. 

The real test for new business owners is whether you can adapt mentally and climb out of the trough. 

Those who are thinking about starting a new business should pay close attention. What Hayley is going through is the norm, not the exception. I've lost count of the number of potters I've met who are struggling with the trough.

It's also possible to avoid the trough, by having modest expectations for the early years, and by understanding how much work is ahead of you. 

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@Stephen @Mark C. @GEP

Thank you all, I appreciate the perspectives.

I think you're talking about a different business model than what I'm dealing with.... your advice is possibly more relevant to the model of a self employed ceramic artist who is trying to "find their niche" 

In regards to my community studio, I was in the "trough of sorrow" and was content to hustle through the tough times... that's not the problem actually. The problem is the gigantic sink hole that just opened up below my "trough" that is taking my financial buffer down with each rent payment. I read a bit of that article  you shared about startups, burning out v.s. toughing it through. I get that. 

I bought the business (with a loan from my mom that I am paying back with interest) from a woman who was intentionally operating the business with minimal profits to keep herself in a lower tax bracket for her health insurance. I had to do hustle for more money with crowdfunding in order to raise our studio capacity as quickly as possible so that I could begin generating profit. I was actually right on track and my projections showed that with the equipment I purchased last year I'd be able to start paying myself a living wage in 2021 because the kickstarter investment allowed me to have up to 20 studio members and teach 4 (8-week) classes per quarter. Kickstarter was hard work, and people didn't just give me money, I worked for it, making pots as rewards. 

But I'm not in the business of making pots (that's just my side-gig as an artist). My business is the community studio, providing a creative space for other ceramic artists and hobbyists to work without needing to spend thousands on their own home studio. Without the community being able to gather, I can't make money. And because the studio I rent is sized for 20+ members, my rent is too high to afford without active classes and memberships. 

Of course having an older business would have resulted in a larger buffer of savings that I could burn through, but most start-ups (even the wildly successful ones) do not have extra savings laying around because they're actively growing and re-investing during the first 5 years... I was prepared to cover a few slow months during the slow season, but certainly not enough to float a year's worth of rent payments for the duration of a global pandemic.

I worked hard for every dime, and had very realistic expectations, so that wasn't the problem. In fact, I was already "over the hump" in getting my business set up to generate profits, but only 6 months have passed between that "hump" and the pandemic. I literally wouldn't and couldn't have done anything different that would have put my business in a better position, given that timeline, besides winning the lottery. Now, the difference between staying open and closing the community studio is only $12,000 - $15,000 (these are my projected losses for 2020) but without the government bailing me out (which they're not) or my landlord forgiving my rent for most of the year (which she wont), my business has been quickly squished like a bug under the foot of covid. 

Again, I appreciate the sentiments, but I don't think I'm failing here as I really don't have a choice... throwing myself under the bus by acquiring $15,000+ more in debt just to survive a pandemic would be more of a failure in the long run (since that could affect my ability to maintain good credit and do normal things like buy a home in my hometown within my lifetime, which was already looking impossible before this).

What I am going through is not the "norm" that you speak of...  although I am familiar with the common pattern of naive entrepreneurs. On the contrary, my situation is 100% exceptional because OUR situation (the global pandemic) is 100% an exception to the rule of normal life.  My timeline for profits just got pushed back from one year from now, to probably three (and that's if I operate at half capacity for the next year). I think I'm being very realistic by deciding that the risk is too great and it would be impractical to "muscle through" a pandemic with a business that operates on the premise of humans being closer than 6 feet from eachother... literally breathing the same air in order to teach and learn ceramics.

Oh boy, thank you guys. I don't mean to be contrarian.... I was just looking for some other folks with community studios who have a similar business model to mine... wondering if they're finding ways to pay large studio rents without any income  from their communal space.. wondering if any of them have found support without gofundmes. 

I think I know the answer already, cause I'm living it. 

Thank you guys.  

  

 

 

 

 

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I never thought anything other than a community run studio-Thats why I used the example of renting out some sections to cover some coists to get threw this.The example is from our local community studio like yours with members pay dues to use-its exactly like your business excpet they have 4-6 member spaces that rent out several to more advanced students.Some money is better than none. Members are off limits now but renter can and do use their spaces.Its an option

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16 hours ago, HayleyPots said:

I was actually right on track and my projections showed that with the equipment I purchased last year I'd be able to start paying myself a living wage in 2021

Hey your doing great from my perspective. You are taking a hard look at where you have been and where you are going and weighing all the pros and cons. Coming on a board like this and tapping into a back and forth with a bunch of people that likely understand your business better than many pros you could tap for a fee is very smart. 

I think your definition of failing is a little off. Plenty of businesses fail through absolutely no fault of their own. All kinds of things happen that just blindside you and have nothing to do with your business acumen or how well you were executing your plan. Global pandemic is certainly out of left field but it can also be a road problem makes it impossible for anyone to get to your business for six, eight months, an exact copy of your business opens up two doors down and they price you under the table to run you out, weather event devastates the area and you don't have the right insurance  etc etc. I would have to research it but my guess is that the 'out of my control' event is at the very least not remotely uncommon. What's really different about the pandemic is it's happening to everyone not just you and we still don't know if the after effects will be even worse. That's what I meant when I said that the pandemic may make any action on your part to save your business for naught in my last post. But the economy may well just shrug and bounce back after a few months and I would not rule this out at all.

You are at least getting to take a moment and evaluate this and that's good. I assume many small business owners had to walk away from their businesses right off the bat because there was no decision to be made, the money stopped and they needed to eat and have shelter so they closed it down and are now trying to survive just like everyone else thrown out of work. In your case it sounds like you have a rent concession from your landlord on the table and at least feel you access to the dough you would need to hang in to the other side of 2020 and see if you can pick up where you left off or not.  

So I guess while I see merits in throwing in the towel if you are just convinced that the additional 15k is just good money after bad, I guess I am saying don't talk yourself into the notion that it is the only way to go. Once you call it then all the money and time you have put in to date is gone minus what you can recover in equipment sales.

I wish you the very best no matter which way you go it sounds like you have done something you can be proud of and another successful business may well be in the cards for you down the road if you do call it. Yeah I had assumed you were an artist that sold retail and maybe even wholesale and the studio was an adjunct to that. Making a living in pottery on sales of pots alone is hard so many potters have to branch out and add something to it to make it work. A studio with classes and open studio time is very popular because of the synergy and I had just assumed that was you.  You said in one post that given another year if this pandemic hadn't happened then you feel that your work would have improved and if you do decide to hang in then maybe working toward that end would be a thought so that in the future you would have another revenue stream. While the pandemic is making it hard for potters to sell work it is not keeping them from producing it so the revenue can be recovered later.

Good Luck!

 

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one thing I will add is that I would approach the landlord situation very carefully. Verbal agreements can go sideways so easily. If I were in your shoes and the rent concession was a big part of what made staying in business attractive I would ask for a revised lease reflecting the new agreed upon terms. Essentially this person is making an offer to you that I assume he/she feels is a good business decision in order to keep a good tenant and putting it in writing should not be a problem. If it is then it means that want to remain flexible  and that would/could put you in a bad situation down the road after you have taken on the additional debt.

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Is there a cost to just walking away?  A 1 person LLC offers some protection.   And from the states I've operated in, you would have to go to court to break corporate veil.  Breaking the first layer of a corporate costs about $25K.  It can be done but no one does this unless there are assets to be recovered.

I was in this situation after Katrina with a store I had in New Orleans.    A very strange thing happened here ... the only signed lease copy was  one in my possession and the other in a office that looters destroyed, along with a check for $25,000 that was a construction deposit, which was to begin the following week.

Louisiana has land lord favored lease laws (Napoleonic Code).     After deliberation, we walked from this lease.  Retrospect, that was a good thing.  Because that property never recovered.  Changed hands and objectives a couple times since then.  We never faced any legal action.   They did send me quite a few letters demanding I turn over my copy of the lease.    Of course, that thing blew away in a storage building.

I'm not sure when or if the economy will return.    I'm operating with the assumption, it won't be as strong for a while. 

I'm going to suggest walking away from that lease.    Now is the time to pare down. 

 

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Thinking re reopening and I wrote a few thin gs in another post...

Is it possible to separate work areas ie wheel booths with lightweight shower curtain material? Easily ckeaned down?

Thinking of providing safer areas. That's all.

Are your areas totally closed or could you schedule restricted numbers , very restricted, into the areas now?

The online classes seem doable with a bit of programming.

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  • 1 month later...

I restarted classes at my studio today. I'm not sure if I'm excited about that or not, but at least things are moving forward. It was a lot less freaky than I expected it to be. I had to remove 2 wheels and one large table from my studio, but enough students decided to delay coming back that I didn't have to schedule another class to handle the load. Some aren't comfortable with being in groups yet, and others had schedule changes since we last met. They'll all be back at some point, though. The studio is nice and roomy now with 6 feet between wheels, and it's kinda nice. A definite waste of square footage when paying rent, though. After we finish up this current session I'll have to lower my class sizes from 10 to 7, which means I'll have to add another class to maintain numbers, but even that will fall slightly short. I'll go from having a possible 40 students down to 35. But 35 students is still a good number for me. My goal for the next 6 months is simply to maintain enough students to pay the bills, which shouldn't be a problem. Any kilns sales or repairs will be gravy.

Kiln sales have started to pick up again, but kiln repairs are almost nonexistent right now. I've got a couple of jobs waiting in the wings, but they're not ready for me yet. L&L says they've been selling a lot of small 18x18 kilns, as people don't have access to the studios they usually fire at and want to get the cheapest kiln they can for home. In 5 years the market will be flooded with used kilns that haven't been fired for 4 years.

The best news is that unemployment came through for me after two months of waiting before I could even apply. So that's a big worry of my mind, as unemployment will cover my bills from being closed for almost 3 months.

Things are definitely getting better, but I'm not convinced it's going to continue. I'm going to plan for having to close again at some point before the end of the year. People need to keep doing the things they're supposed to do to keep safe, but so many people are getting lazy about it.

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