Lack of customers, high rents force Hobbs in Kerrisdale to close

Lack of customers, high rents force Hobbs in Kerrisdale to close

By Sandra Thomas, Staff writer December 6, 2012
After opening in 1989, Thomas Hobbs’ Kerrisdale gift shop closes at the end of the month.

After opening in 1989, Thomas Hobbs’ Kerrisdale gift shop closes at the end of the month.

Photograph by: Dan Toulgoet , Vancouver Courier

Florist and author Thomas Hobbs has mixed feelings about closing the Kerrisdale gift shop he’s owned and operated with his business and life partner Brent Beattie since 1989.

The gift shop, also named Hobbs and located at 2129 West 41st Ave., will close at the end of this month after doing business in Kerrisdale for more than 23 years. “I’m sad because Kerrisdale has been so good to me, but it’s changed so much,” said Hobbs. “In my opinion the people who live here now don’t want to buy beautiful dishes or candles or nice soap, they want to shop in Richmond.”

Hobbs, who also owns and operates Southlands Nursery, is an internationally renowned florist whose private garden has been featured in numerous lifestyle magazines including House Beautiful and Better Homes and Gardens. Hobbs has also been featured in Martha Stewart Living. In 1975, he launched Thomas Hobbs Florist in Kerrisdale, located beside Hobbs gift shop, which today is owned and operated by Maureen Sullivan. It will remain open.

Hobbs said the gift shop was Vancouver’s first “home store,” and he and Beattie travelled to Italy and France to import high-end dishes, linens, lamps and small furniture, which they artfully displayed. During a visit to Hobbs earlier this week, much of the shop’s inventory had been discounted in preparation for its closing. Hobbs lamented most shoppers today are more interested in shopping at big box stores such as Home Sense or Winners than supporting independent retailers.

“There is no Kerrisdale Village anymore,” said Hobbs. “Hobbs became like a museum where people just dropped by to put on free hand cream.”

Hobbs said their gift shop is not the only victim of the shifting demographic of Kerrisdale. To make that point, the couple’s 2012 Halloween display included tombstones etched with the names of other independent businesses that have closed in Kerrisdale in recent years. On his blog, “tomspeaks” at thomashobbs.com, he noted there were so many tombstones they couldn’t all fit in the store’s window.

Hobbs told the Courier the rent on the retail space had increased exponentially and in recent years the couple has been paying $120,000 a year for their lease. Hobbs explained half of that pays the landlord’s property tax. He estimated the couple has paid millions of dollars in rent since opening the shop in 1989.

“And that’s not fair,” said Hobbs. “There was a movement by the city to reduce commercial property taxes, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.”

He added there are very few people who can afford to buy a home in Kerrisdale.

“And the ones who can afford to don’t support the village,” said a frustrated Hobbs, who added he’ll be happy to concentrate on his beloved nursery. “But it’s not just Kerrisdale. Target is coming to Oakridge, so watch out.”

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COMMENT:
Several weeks ago, one of the Starbucks in Vancouver closed
I had to read the article twice…as I coudn’t believe the rent they stated, which worked out to $1,000 per day.
So, in Hobbs case, he had to make  a profit of approx. $300 /day  to pay just some of the overhead.
QUOTE:
“In my opinion the people who live here now don’t want to buy beautiful dishes or candles or nice soap, they want to shop in Richmond.”
That’s coded language for major demographic shift …. your old customer base  is drying up and no new ones to replace them.
QUOTE:
“And that’s not fair,” said Hobbs. “There was a movement by the city to reduce commercial property taxes, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.”
It  never will, no going back. Whe Hobbs vacates, his landlord is going to be really hooped. I highly doubt they will find a tenant in this economy,thus loss of $60,000 / year in RENT…and will have to pay the $60,000 a year in TAXES….so in the hole for $120,000 per year .  Multiply that by the number of other stores closed down, it becomes a dead area for shopping. Gov’t are so out of touch with reality. One scenario is the landlord loses so many tenants  that they cannot pay the taxes, and the City claims the property for a tax sale.
Or the landlord  could sell it, but if the writing is on the wall that the area is a dying business district…whats the market price going to be ?
Oh yeah…build more condos.????
QUOTE:

He added there are very few people who can afford to buy a home in Kerrisdale.

“And the ones who can afford to don’t support the village,” said a frustrated Hobbs, who added he’ll be happy to concentrate on his beloved nursery. “But it’s not just Kerrisdale. Target is coming to Oakridge, so watch out.” 

Again….the demographic change .

I read his blog and he also noted parking meters. Personally, I think they should all be removed. They turn people off and keep customers away. Parking meters simply fill city coffers….and are bait for more revenue via parking tickets. Its public property, to benefit the public, which includes small business and the jobs they create. I can foresee this situation only getting worse. Then again…there is an old saying….you can get poor if you cater to the rich….but you can get rich if you cater to the poor ( ie Wal Mart )

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