Friday, July 27, 2007

Super Burrito is gone.

I've told this story before, but it bears repeating.

Around 1995 or 1996, my wife started to lobby to sell our mall store. It was still profitable, so I resisted. But our north end section of the mall started to get really weak. I'd go into K-Mart and see half empty shelves and no customers. The restaurant across from us had a series of vendors who would pack up and leave in the middle of the night. The 4-plex theater started getting the dregs of movies once the Pilot Butte theater was built. And so on.

The south end had always been sort of weak, and now the north end was looking just as bad. But I thought, maybe if the other merchants banded together, maybe started a program of helping enlist and help new businesses, or to reinforce existing businesses, maybe something could be done. I was admittedly vague, and even now I don't know exactly what we could've done.

So I started working my way toward the center of the mall, talking to other merchants. The closer I got to the center, the more dissed I felt. Finally, a couple of stores that shall remain nameless in their utter stupidity, said to me,

"We're doing great! What wrong with you?"

"We have gangrene at both ends of the mall," I said. "Doesn't that concern you?"

"No," they both said. "Go take care of your own business...."

So I marched back to my wife's store and said, "You're right. These people can't see what coming, let's sell."

By the beginning of 1997, we had sold out. The store and the mall went on for another 5 years of so, slowly dying, and I counted myself lucky.

Super Burrito is gone. Just few years ago, I did a survey of that building, and every one of the tenants said they weren't worried. They had leases. Everything was just fine. I shook my head. The new owners had said, "We don't plan on any changes...." which means RUN! RUN AWAY!

So the building is going to have almost complete turnover. The St.Clair building had total turnover. The Franklin Crossing corner had complete turnover. The Old Mattress factory building had complete turnover. The four closest buildings to mine have had COMPLETE TURNOVER!

Now, I think I have good landlords. I believe them when they say they aren't intending to make any changes. But the momentum of downtown change itself may force the issue. The owner may get an offer he can't refuse. He may like my store, but that doesn't mean he won't want to charge the going rate. This rate would be about 35% more than I'm currently paying per foot, and nearly twice as much as I'd be paying at my second location.

I'm still a believer in downtown. So the solution to me is to have two locations, and enough flexibility to adapt the circumstances.

I had really horrible dreams last night. I dreamed I came to my store, and it was unlocked. I had a complete meltdown with my employees.

Now normally, I consider my dreams to be opposite of what's happening in my life. Happy dreams when things aren't going well, horrible dreams when they are. It's like my subconscious is trying to create a balance.

But I woke up, thinking of all the bad experiences I've had with employees over the years (I've had good ones, as well, of course but this was a really bad dream, I'm telling ya,) and thinking maybe I'm just not ready.

This kind of vacillation drives my wife nuts, but it's how I make my decisions. I accumulate data and feelings until I finally know what I want to do. Meanwhile, obviously I think I'm going to do it because I've already spent 6k on product for the new store. I guess I feel I have until I sign on the dotted line....

Meanwhile, just for chuckles, there is a new sign in the Kuishindo Kitchen space -- I believe it says "KIDSPORT, a kid's clothing store..."

(Edited: the store is called TREEFORT.) (Kind of a cool name, actually.)

Clothing store

jewelry store

home decor

clothing store

home decor

jewelry store

art gallery



Bend Oregon Restaurants said...

What do you mean Super Burrito is gone? That's it, done? Just like Kushimbo? Is there a sign or anything?


Duncan McGeary said...

I think the Bulletin said Tuesday...

Duncan McGeary said...

Which would make sense since Wednesday is the first.

Duncan McGeary said...

I wonder why so many of the changes are on the Bond side of downtown. Maybe the buildings were a bit cheaper during a transition time?

When I think about it, just about all the buildings to the east, north, and south of me have had transformations. Even my own building has: lost a shoe repair, a trophy shop, and a bike shop, replaced with a jewelry store, a perfume store, and a gallery, lost the gallery and perfume store, replaced by a clothing store and the expansion of the jewelry store.

Change is constant.

Plan for change.

Duncan McGeary said...

Interesting. The culture of blame is starting to develop. Most bubbles I've seen end in a big waste of time pointing fingers and accusing everyone who tries to point out problems of 'negativity and whining." Everything would just be great if everyone would be positive.

I didn't know if the real estate people would be sophomoric enough to do it -- but of course they are.

I guess it's just starting late. Well into the problem. Because they were able to deny reality for so long.

IHateToBurstYourBubble said...

And Super Burrito is not a "marginal" case, a business not getting sufficient volume to survive... it does great volume w/ great product. It's just these sorts of businesses are doomed downtown. $5 a throw will not exist downtown in any form. $10-15 sushi, and that's it.

Downtown isn't for locals anymore. This is just a travesty. When you close Super Burrito, you've GONE TOO FAR! I'm starting to actively WANT Bend to bust, instead of somehow recover.

Anonymous said...

The big question today in Bend is where do we build. Everybody knows we have to keep building. We must keep expanding the UGB so the perimeter land owners can win the real estate lottery.

The problem is we cannot build south because of the lava.

We cannot build north because its all farmland, and LCDC ( SB100 1972 ) Oregon State law doesn't allow farm land to be destroyed for housing tracts.

We cannot build east because of valuable geology, LCDC doesn't allow National & State treasures to be destroyed for tract homes and malls.

We cannot go west because its national forest.

Perhaps Bend has found a natural growth boundary at present. Perhaps this is geographically the maximum space Bend can occupy. Perhaps at this point if WE must grow the population so that we can pass old debt onto new-comers. We have no choice but to build up, or fill in.

There is a last choice we can have a building moratorium until we decide what the goal really is.

Whether the plan be 2030 or 2050 Bend doesn't have to become a population of 500,000. People say the debate about population growth, and city expansion is over, but the fact is it will never be over.

Keeneye said...

We're starting our new business (a pizza place) here in Baker. We had thought about leasing a place downtown - it's cheap, and we'd get in their quickly. However, after coming from Bend and watching businesses (some owned by friends) have to move locations multiple times, we realized that we'd be smart to buy the dirt. It may be spendy now, but it would be impossible to buy it later as prices rise.

I feel terrible for places like Azillion Beads, Kushimbo, Gambit, Double Happiness, Super Burrito... to put in so much time, money, and energy into building a successful biz, only to have a 30-day eviction notice. That's rough.

Duncan McGeary said...


If you can afford to buy a place, cool. Just remember, you still don't have total control of the neighborhood, which could change around you, and you'd be stuck.

I believe that most city planners believe that a healthy downtown has a healthy variety.

Including, I think, the funk. Not everyone is attracted to high-end.

Anonymous said...

I believe that most city planners believe that a healthy downtown has a healthy variety.

Watch what they do do, not what they say, and certainly NOT what they believe.

Anonymous said...

At the beginning of the month, Moreno ( super burrito ) said DesertScape (WALMART) issued a 30-day notice to move out because the space would no longer be used for food service.


Why would walmart want to put a little mexican burrito shop down?

Anonymous said...


DesertScape the owner of the SuperBurrito location is ran by a guy name Talbot, who is national hatchet man for Walmart.

This is all quite interesting, I'm sure its just a simple investment? Talbot is heavily involved also under the name 'desertscape' with the Redmond super-walmart, and as we all know folks in bend have been opposed to a super-walmart here, ... Again its what is said, but WHO says what.

Jason said...

I want to say that I can't believe Super Burrito is gone. I really do.

Unfortunately, very few of these sorts of changes really startle me anymore. I'm getting used to it.