The Dance of Negotiating a Deal for a Warehouse

There is a delicate dance involved in negotiating a space for our purposes, one that I have become too familiar with from the failed negotiations of spaces we desired in the past.  The dance revolves around meeting the needs of our business, juxtaposed with the needs and desires of the landlord, with our selfish desire to open the brewery sometime before this decade ends.  When a deal favours one party measurable more than the other, a deal is usually not going to come together.  However, when both parties are reasonable and take a collaborative approach, there is hope for a deal to be struck.

Space Photo

A sneak peak of the space we are looking to lease.

The landlord that we are currently negotiating a deal with is one of the most fair, trustworthy and understanding landlords we have come across so far on our journey.  Compared with some of the landlords we have dealt with in the past (we have tried to secure a space for over a year), he is a breath of fresh air.  Let me give you an example of how the other half operate.

About 6 months ago, we came across a property not far from Coal Harbour Brewing, Powell Street Brewing and Parallel 49.  It was a great space that was inspiring, unique and located near these other breweries, so it would help to keep our tasting room bus.  We acted quickly, and within 2 weeks of this property being on the market, we viewed it 2 times, had our architect visit and perform a code review, and we were in and out of the City of Vancouver asking questions and understanding the space.  Before we made our offer, the landlord’s realtor and our realtor discussed the basic framework of the deal, and everyone seemed to be on the same page.  So we made our offer …. and this is where things came off the rails.

The landlord changed his mind about a few of the key details, like increasing his asking price, the amount of work he would do and the terms of the lease after we made our offer.  So we pondered his change of heart, and decided to go back with another offer reflecting his change of position.  The offer was very generous and gave the landlord everything!  In other words, all the changes he asked for we decided to offer.  We expected to have a deal once he read our new offer.  Well wouldn’t you know it, he changed his position again.  This time, he told us he was not going to pay for any freight elevator upgrades, when he told previously he would.  In short, he got greedy.

So what did we do?  We walked.  Yes that space was perfect, and yes we would have been successful in that space, but at the end of the day, we didn’t want to deal with a jerk on a regular basis.  It was tiring and too emotional dealing with him, so we moved on.

And are we ever glad that we did move on.  Now we are looking at a better space for our operations, with a landlord who is willing to work with us, instead of in opposition to us.  The stress and emotion have left the process, and considering all the stress involved in starting a brewery, this is a good thing for my life.

Without putting a jinx on us <touching wood>, we are in the final stages of negotiating with this landlord.  We hope to work out a deal, and with a little more exploration and understanding of this space, we will hopefully sign-off on a deal in the next few weeks.  We are optimistic, but if our past experiences have helped us understand this process, we won’t be overly alarmed if it falls apart.  A deal isn’t a deal until the cheque is signed … and probably clears at the bank.  On Monday, we will be getting a look under those floors, and hopefully take a huge step to towards finding a dancing partner.


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