Open For Business
I am the owner of the Learning Express in Scripps Ranch. I want Scripps Ranch to know that we are open for business and have signed a new five-year lease. I send this letter to you because of an article that was written by Cathy Kessel of Cathy’s Hallmark in the November SCRA Newsletter.
That article has affected me adversely. Customers, friends, and neighbors have contacted me asking if we were staying open. They have mistaken the plight of Cathy with the status of my store. So I write to tell you that we are here, and with the continued support of Scripps Ranch, we plan to stay here.
We did downsize to make the rent more affordable. We were not forced out. We asked for the downsize, and the landlord agreed. And, yes, as Cathy says in her article, the rent has gone up a great deal. However, we have used our space much more efficiently and have kept our best products and our great customer service intact. With your support in these uncertain economic times, we know we can make this situation work.
We still offer all of our services, including our fundraising efforts for nonprofit organizations. I want to thank Dingeman, Ellen Browning Scripps, and Miramar Ranch elementary schools for choosing to hold fundraisers at Learning Express. When you support us by scheduling these fundraisers, we can support you by donating money from the fundraisers, as well as products and gift certificates for ongoing events.
As I look back over the last five years, I realize how much we have benefited from being a member of this community. Just ask my friends, most of whom I met through the store. I have learned so much about running a business and being part of a community. What I want is to continue my business and make it profitable for my family, as well as this community. We hope all of you have a great holiday season.
Eileen Marks, Learning Express Owner
I sympathize with Cathy Kessel, the owner of Cathy’s Hallmark. However, I must take her to task on lumping restaurants with banks. She wrote: "For example, gift stores cannot pay the same rent as restaurants or banks or salons. Our average transaction is substantially lower than a restaurant."
There are over 20 restaurants, and at least 6 Italian-type restaurants, in Scripps Ranch alone. While it could be argued that large restaurant chains can absorb the increases, most "mom and pop" restaurants barely make ends meet.
Couple the competition with the fact that restaurants are charged higher rents than retail and triple net–which are other fees. Also, restaurants usually employ more people than retail shops so they have higher labor, taxes, social security, and workman’s compensation costs–the list goes on and on. It is no wonder that restaurants have a higher failure rate than any other business.
If it were not for the equity in our house, we would have closed long ago! We learned a long time ago that we are only a number and if we cannot pay the rent, the landlord will find someone else who will–even if the space is vacant for months!
When we opened our restaurant here in 1977, our Scripps Ranch Village Center landlord was charging "downtown" rent. In good times and in bad times, the rent only goes up. We have weathered many storms over the years, but like Cathy, we do not know how much longer we can hang on either.
Joan Pernicano, Scripps Ranch Business and Home Owner
In the early morning–between 3 and 4 am–on November 9, our son’s 1988 Porsche was deliberately vandalized. The rear window and drivers side window were completely broken out. The drivers side mirror was twisted down. He was parked across the street from our home near Scripps Ranch Boulevard. The damage is about $1,200.
A neighbor heard noise but thought it was someone throwing rocks at her fence. She heard people laughing as they drove away. Our son found out at 7 am as he was leaving for the day. This is not the first time our vehicles were damaged.
A few months before, the Porsche crest was taken from the hood of his car, along with a Honda crest on one of our vehicles. Three months ago a car cover was stolen from one of our cars. A few months before that, someone took the lock out of the Honda door and stole the CD player.
We have lived in the neighborhood for 16 years, and the damage to our property keeps getting worse. What kind of people do such vicious things to someone they don’t even know? The police were called, but they were too busy to come out. What can be done to get more police protection and surveillance in our area?
[Ed note: According to San Diego Police Community Relations Officer Steve Higuera, the SDPD policy is that if there are no witnesses or suspect information available for a property crime, only a telephone report is taken. Officer Higuera says there are such a large number of these calls citywide that, unfortunately, the SDPD does not have the staff to go to each one. If your car has been vandalized, the SDPD will fingerprint it and try to match those fingerprints to other crimes or suspects. To make an appointment, call the SDPD Storefront at 538-8120 or the Northeast Division at 538-8000.]
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