We have an update on the shop. I’ve been struggling to find the right words for this post and it’s hard. Really hard. We’ve spent this last weekend pretty numb after receiving some heartbreaking news completely out of the blue, which has shocked, angered and confused us beyond belief. This may seem like too much information, waffling, or overly dramatic to some degree, but I’m just going to explain what’s happened as far as we know in hope I don't have to keep answering questions about this because to be honest, we're finding it really hard to talk about.
Last Monday, 3rd July, we were due to start slowly moving in to our new unit. For anyone that has followed our story you probably already know that we’ve been waiting for this day for about 15 months. For anyone that doesn’t, we first put a proposal in for this unit back in November 2015, and signed the agreement to lease in April 2016. We’ve done events and pop-ups along the way to keep us afloat whilst we waited for the unit to which we’d committed ourselves to be renovated. Delay after delay has meant 15 months of treading water, but finally the renovation was due to be finished this July. We’d worked really closely with the landlord and builders along to way to spec out the unit perfectly for what we wanted Idle Hands to be. This was to be our new, permanent home, one we’ve worked so hard to get to, and one we were so excited to grow in. We’ve spent everything we’ve saved along the way, and even worse, money we’ve borrowed. Tens of thousands of pounds, on making bespoke counters and shelving, and shelled out for applications towards the new unit and legal costs. We even had all our new kitchen equipment being delivered last Monday as the basement was completed. We were due to visit the site on the Friday before the delivery to double check everything was fine. The day before that visit is when everything started to unravel, when we received an email from the construction company telling us they’d been instructed to cancel the visit and we should contact our solicitors. Nothing more. Nothing less. An email like that, then they went dark.
We spent a whole week trying to find out what was going on. My solicitor hadn't been informed of anything, none of the construction team, nor the landlord’s solicitors would talk to us. The equipment was already en route so we had to take delivery of it still not knowing what was going on.
Then on Wednesday we received a letter from the landlords solicitors telling us they were terminating our lease…They told us the loophole clause they wished to use in order to terminate it, but nothing more. Again we were left completely in the dark. We tried to contact anyone and everyone to find out what was going on, and quickly made plans to remove the equipment we’ve already had delivered and stored. Finally late on Friday evening we managed to speak to someone involved in the construction team. He was quick to point out he was not involved in any of the legal dealings, but he had been briefed so could give me some information…
Basically the landlord (which we now know is also the owner of the construction company who have been working so closely with us this whole time, and who know how much we've invested and how committed we've been to it this last year and a half) had just decided he wanted it for himself. Our unit. The one we had signed for on April of last year and was only just now about to be completed. This late in the day they decided they wanted to use it for amenities for the flats being built above. His words were "a place for tenants to sit and drink”….like a coffee shop?
We’ve attempted to highlight to them not only how much money we have spent on this unit, and how much debt this could leave us in, but also the time and effort we’ve committed to them and our shop. How hard we’ve worked to stay afloat just in order to take this unit on. And on a personal note, Lucy is due to give birth in three months, the delays had already been bad enough, but we were relying on at least having a functioning business by then. But I don’t think any of this matters to them, and I’m not sure if we will ever hear from them again, so there doesn't seem to be any chance of them reconsidering.
Like I said, we’d worked so closely with them this last year, we’d helped design the unit as it stands. They have all our plans for this shop. I already know if anything opens even slightly similar it will be absolutely heartbreaking. Unfortunately for us, it appears legally, they can just leave us out on the street, but we can't help feel like we've had the rug pulled out from under us. It feels like we’ve lost the last year of our lives. Or more like it’s been stolen. You may think we should’ve seen this coming, or we’ve jumped the gun in some respects, but I can honestly say we haven’t. I want to be careful not to air gory details incase of any legal ramifications, but all I’ll say is we have been told every step of the way that this was happening. We’ve had no reason to think otherwise. Up to the point of that delivery being agreed by all parties just a few days before this all happened.
The next step for us is to gather ourselves then make a plan. It’s hard to see outside this bubble right now, and we need to see if we can even come back from this at all. All we’ve ever wanted was our shop, and we’ve tried to remain positive this last year, so you can be sure we will throw everything we’ve got at trying to make sure Idle Hands continues in some capacity, but “everything we’ve got” has certainly taken a big hit this last week. We will continue to update with news as we have it, but apologies if we disappear for a while.
In the meantime, if any of you know of any empty properties in need of an Idle Hands, don't be shy about it ha.