Archive for April, 2011

I often wonder how places can keep their doors open when it is obvious they are not making a profit. Scotty’s, which closed a few weeks ago on Argonne appeared to be doing better than some that continue to defy gravity. Many years ago I stopped trying to figure Scotty’s out. To me it did not seem to be a big enough place to turn enough tables to make it a profitable venture. Since it seemed to stay fairly consistent through the years, I just figured the owner had other sources of income and the business was at least paying it’s own way.
Given that the doors were finally closed with the owner reportedly in debt, chances are that the place never did make a profit in all the years (around 8, I think) it was open. It would surely shock anyone who has never owned a small business how many small businesses operate without the benefit of a profit. In the restaurant/bar industry it is probably realistic to say that more small independents are not making a profit than are.
But that seems to be impossible for people to grasp. I have watched over and over again as someone threw their lifesavings at a venture with odds far greater for failure than success. I talked to the guy who came into the Plantation right after we had been kicked out. I assured him that he needed to have enough money put aside to get through a year or two of no profit. He looked at me like I was crazy and said he planned on making money from the day he opened. He was obviously mistaken because he only lasted 6 months.
We were still at the Rock Inn when Scotty’s opened and I remember wondering why would they spend $250,000 to remodel the old Wolfy’s so that they could give the Valley another watering hole and themselves a money pit. I guess they were just dying to play the game. I have a very strong feeling their initial investment was never recouped.

Now I see where someone is going to open an Oriental buffet at the old Mojo location behind Shari’s on Sullivan. I also heard the owners of the fitness center behind Owens Auction are planning to put in a sports bar in the strip mall between them and the auction’s space. That one so far is hearsay but the Oriental place is taking place for sure. The sports bar will likely come to fruition because it seems like such a fun business to be in.
They should talk to a friend of mine who bought into the industry at a well known Valley location not long ago. There he is tied to a long term lease with thousands of his savings sunk into a building he doesn’t own. “What was I thinking?” he said. “I would love to have my life back like it was before we got into this.” He can get out of the lease by filing bankruptcy or gut it out for another 8 years or so like Scotty’s did. Either way, his money and life as he knew it are long gone.

So why would anyone build a new home in Spokane to sell right now during these economic times especially considering how hard the residential construction segment of the marketplace has been hit? For Elaine and I, the principal answer is that building houses the way that we build them is our preferred way to make a living. We have done it for years (since the early 90’s except our 4 years at the Rock Inn), we are good at putting together new homes and most importantly we have always been able to sell them. While the turn around in real estate seems at least a year or two or five away from now, I am fairly confident our current home will sell soon at a reasonable price. I suppose it is obvious that I believed that or else I would not have built this home in the first place. The question is why.Here’s why:

Location,location,location– If these were really goods times to be building houses, I probably would not have been able to build this house in this new neighborhood. The location is too good. During building booms, the big builders tie up all the lots in the new subdivisions located in the prime areas of the Spokane Valley. The Terrace View Park area has been a nice neighborhood since they started building just east of Pines and south of 16th during the early 50’s.
Besides being just off Evergreen with its’ direct shot to 90 and the Mall, the 22nd Lane is a non-thru street and the lots are 100′ x 100′ (that’s unheard of these days).

Original Design with the Baby Boomer in Mind– This is our trump card. If someone told us that we could only build a home for sale in Spokane Valley that was geared for the typical family, I would have to pass. The Valley is packed with homes old and new that are geared for the typical family. New homes being built by builders for sale and existing homes for sale are in direct competition. In normal times, 15% of all homes sold are new homes. Right now only 5% of all sold are new homes. That’s because of all the foreclosures and hard times forcing desperately low prices in the existing house supply.
The Della Dean has almost no competition in the existing house for sale market. In times past, only custom-built homes had no-step entries and they were very few and far between. By the same token, almost no one thought to install 3′ doors even though they cost the same and are just as easy to design into a house and install. Beyond stairs and wider doors there are several other things that most of us Baby Boomers want in a home that are hard to find in older homes. An older home may have some but probably not all of these “wish list items” that the Della Dean has:

  • Oversized garage
    5-burner gas stove
    concrete covered back patio
    bonus room
    R.V. parking and clean out
    dining room
    soaker tub and walk-in shower
    office and guest room
    95% efficient furnace

    Hands on way of designing and building– This is probably not what will sell the Della Dean but it is a unique feature of the home and the main reason we are in this business. I work with my son, Eli; my old friend,Tim; and my wife,Elaine on the DeerHart Design homes from the drawing board where I dream it up and put it on paper
    to the foundation we build to the house we frame to the finishes like woodwork, tile and paint that we put into the house ourselves. I’ve seen some builders design and I’ve seen some builders do some of the work on their homes. But in all the 40 years or so that I’ve known builders, I don’t remember too many, if any, that really knew carpentry and design and how to general a house. That’s why it does not add a lot in the marketabillity of the Della Dean. There is nothing to compare this intangible to. Appraisers don’t add value if they have no comps. But I’ve always felt we put an energy into a new home that gives our home a warmth that can only be added by building the way we build. See if it comes through in Elaine’s tour.

    This new home is located at 13814 east. 22nd which is just off Evergreen Road. It is priced at $318,500.
    Call Elaine for an appoinment or more info. 868-4862
    To view past homes click here.

  • The following is an email that I got yesterday from long time family friend Alan Creach. I’ll let him do the writing in this blog:
    Dear Friends,
    You may share my frustration at the continuing disregard for law and the lack of justice when it comes to acts committed by law enforcement. I am speaking of the recent murder of my father at the hands of a Spokane Valley Policeman. As you know Dad was killed back in August on Wednesday night after church. He had gone out after being awakened by the sound of a car backing up to the outdoor floral display at the Plant Farm, a business that he owned that has provided our familie’s livelihood for the last 40 years. Dad went to investigate what he saw as a theft and was subsequently killed. What we now know by forensic evidence is that Dad was in a submissive posture when he was shot. All these facts were known by Spokane County Prosecutor when he decided not to charge the officer. All these facts are known by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich but he has yet to act in bringing any diciplinary action against the officer. I have attempted to share with the community the details of the investigation but in short this has been a cover up job since August 25th, beginning with the investigating agency SPD allowing the offender to leave town on vacation to Las Vegas for 9 days before making a statement.
    In short there have been a number of laws that were broken by this officer but it appears that his actions are not a result of his flawed thinking but a result of flawed training. To begin with he was on patrol in an unmarked car. This is a flagrant violation of RCW 46.08.065 which states that patrol cars are to be marked on both sides. This is a decision by County Sheriff command staff please see Sunday April 3 Spokesman article . In addition he took up position in the greenhouse parking lot as a part of his training. This is deals with property rights and everyone knows that even in criminal situations the law enforcers must get a warrant before tresspassing into private property.
    I have attempted to address these issues with the Sheriff, he thinks he’s right, he feels bad, he says, but is unwilling to address these issues with training.
    I have spoken to the County Commissioners, they feel bad but they need more information, they’ll be in touch.
    I’ve spoken to the FBI in Spokane, they are busy but will be in touch in a couple weeks that was 6 weeks ago.
    I’ve spoken to the Spokane Valley Council and they feel bad as well but they can’t talk about it, something about impending investigation, hmm, something about litigation hmm, we haven’t filed anything.
    But we now have a chance to get some answers.
    Spokane Valley Mayor is going to have some state of the city meetings where issues that concern us can be addressed by citizens, and answered by council members. There are 4 meeting times:
    April 11th 7-8 PM Spokane Valley Fourth Memorial Church
    April 14th 7-8 PM Greenacres Christian Church
    April 21st 7-8 PM Seth Woodard Elementary 7401 East Mission
    April 28th 12:30- 1:30 at Center Place by the YMCA

    I would suggest that if the murder of Scott Creach is an issue with you then this would be a good opportunity for you to speak out and excercise your right to free speech. I believe that to often we as Christians remain silent until it is way to late.
    You may be saying, what impact is this going to have on the system as it exist.
    Spokane Valley has contracted with Spokane County Sheriff for all their policing services.
    That contract can be ammended or cancelled at any time.
    Spokane Valley City Council are the ones who pass ordinances that impact us everyday.
    Just because the Sheriff wants to violate state law does not mean that he can in our town. City Council can pass a law that says all County Police Cars must be marked if they are operating in the City Limits, it is within their rights.
    They can also pass a law that says all cars must turn on emergency lights when they cross over onto private property.
    They also can pass a law that sets a minimum standard for training and behavior in order to operate as a Spokane Valley Policeman.
    It is time that we demand that our elected officiials stand up and do something about protecting us because as it stands all our lives are in danger until some type of action is taken.
    I hope that you will take time out of your busy schedule to plan to be there, at least to one of these meetings and speak out and demand that the law be upheld in protection of all citizens in this valley. I believe that if we raise a united voice in this matter that the Spokane Valley City Council will respond by insisting that the Sheriff and his men obey the law and treat us all with dignity. You all knew Scott Creach and what he stood for , its time to act while the window of opportunity is open.

    Alan Creach

    On top of this past year’s obviously high percentage of trigger-happy police, there have been several cases through recent years, like Otto Zehm vs. the police, and Shanto Pete vs. the police, that I had to just shake my head at the way things are in this town, and I’m guessing most towns. I’m not a big advocate for making up new laws but things need to change and Alan’s a good guy to support in the cause. It just seems to me that Alan has a good head that he expresses well and that this issue he is addressing needs to be addressed. I know that when he talks he’ll be speaking clearly and from the heart and he’ll be reperesenting his entire family, including his father.

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