Help Lizzy B's

Hello, Barb here,

I really don't want to be asking this, but I need your help.

I bought Sheena's Needle Art Gallery in May of 2018. It was a great shop with a wonderful clientele and it has been a huge learning curve but very rewarding.

Covid hit us hard. We were able to sell needle art supplies still through curbside pickup, but framing was difficult. Lots of people were out of jobs so were buying less. We got through due to the CEBA loan.

In late 2020 an opportunity came up (private sale) to buy a place of my own. It had an apartment upstairs as well. I wasn't planning to buy a place but it was such a good opportunity it seemed meant to be. The mortgage and property taxes would be less than my current rent, plus my daughter had saved up part of a down payment to get a place of her own so we went in on the down payment together so I could move my business and she could have the apartment upstairs.

I called the permits office and had 3 conversations asking if I could occupy the building the way I wanted. I was told yes, and to fill out a permit application saying 'occupy only' because I didn't want to do any renovations. I went ahead with the purchase and filled out the permit application.

What I got back said that I had to get engineered drawings and bring the whole building up to code. Almost a year and over $90,000 later, it was ready to move in to in November 2021.

I had to take out two different loans to cover the over $90,000 and we had to drain our personal savings to pay the rent at the old place whilst waiting for the new place to be ready. This left us personally, as well as my business, with no 'in case of emergency' money.

Because I only had 10% for a down payment we had to go through the Canada Small Business Financing program and the mortgage is not fixed rate. Since I first got it the payment has gone from $2374 a month to $3328 a month. My property taxes and the loan I took out to buy the business went up to for a total increased payment of $1484 per month. My mortgage interest rate is now 10.2 and there is nothing I can do about it. I looked in to consolidating by am told it's not possible.

Now the CEBA loan is coming due. Since I don't have the $40,000 to pay it by January 18 I will owe $60,000 and have to start paying interest. I am already struggling, and adding another payment is not good.

In May I started working evenings as a server at a restaurant to try to make up the shortfall. Unfortunately, summer is the store's slow time so it only made up for that and didn't help me get ahead. I'm still working there 4 nights a week. 12 days are hard but it's worth it.

I started the store's new photo studio hoping to add to the income but have had little time to properly promote it and find new clients.

Giving up is not an option. I love this store and people tell me all the time how happy they are that I'm here and they hope the store never goes away. All that I own is tied to this place so I have to make it work for the store's sake and for my family's sake.

If I can get some of the renovation debt paid down, it will allow me to make my payments each month without worry, and get caught up.

Going forward, I need to buy some new inventory for the store so that I can attract more customers. This business has changed in the last few years and I need to catch up. Online sales are so much more important than before and I need to get my website updated and be a part of the world wide market, which will also benefit all my great local customers. More business will mean I can pay of the renovation debt.

I know it's hard for everyone right now and there are many more worthy causes than this one. If you can help, it would mean the world to me.

Another way to help is to use our services. Bring your framing in or book family portraits in our photo studio. If you have a business, I also still do the things I did before I bought the store: voice over work (www.barbarabest.com) and website design (www.diskychicks.com).

Thank you!

Barb
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Barbara Best
Organizer
Winnipeg, MB

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