Save Uncle Hugo’s – December 2021 Update

A future location where Don Blyly can reopen Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s may have been found he says in his December update, if he can get it at the right price. His two stores were burned by vandals in 2020 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis. Blyly has since cleared and sold that lot, and is looking to reopen elsewhere assisted by an insurance payment and the Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund at GoFundMe which has raised $190,880 to date.

Don Blyly

Here are the highlights of Don Blyly’s December 23 “How’s Business?” update.

Last month he found three prospective buildings to consider – one would be satisfactory if he can get it for the right price.

Around the first of November I found 3 new listings that seemed to be worth looking into.  One was another strip center in Richfield which claimed to have 25 off-street parking spaces.  When I got there, I counted 15 off-street parking spaces and no on-street parking spaces for blocks.  The building seemed to be divided into two spaces, both of which had signs in the windows to indicate that they had businesses operating there. The one that had about 2/3 of the space was clearly occupied, while the other side with about 1/3 of the space looked empty.    Any property I buy has to be used at least 51% by the Uncles to avoid really bad tax consequences, so I crossed this option off the list.

The second new option claimed to be in Edina, but was actually in Minneapolis near the border with Edina, but was priced high enough to have been in Edina.  It had four off-street parking places, and parking on-street looked very difficult.  The total retail space would have been a little over half of the old Uncles location.  I crossed this option off the list.

The third new option was in south Minneapolis.    The city election was November 2, with a battle between the abolish the police faction and the fix the police faction.    I waited until I saw that the “abolish” faction had lost before I was willing to look at the third option.    The third option has about the same retail space as the old Uncles location (but as one large space instead of two separate rooms), and about as much basement space as the old Uncles basement and back storage room combined.  It doesn’t have any off-street parking, but lots of on-street parking is available.    The owner of both the building and the business in the building wants to sell the building, wind down his business, and retire.  I’d be able to bring in contractors to do remodeling in the spring and open for business sometime in the summer.  It looked like a great fit. 

The seller knows how to run his business, and I know how to run my business, but neither of us is an expert on real estate transactions.  So, we are both represented by real estate agents.  One of the many functions of the agents is to come up with a “fair” price for the building, and this is done by looking at comparable recent sales.  My agent looked at 12 sales of single-story commercial buildings in the area to find what the average price per square foot of retail space was, and then figured that the basement space was only worth half of what the first floor space was worth per square foot. My agent concluded that the “fair” price for the building was about $250,000 less than the asking price.  The seller’s agent only looked at the 3 highest prices per square foot in the area and ignored the other 9 sales.  Also, a property that includes a building with off-street parking is going to go for more than the same building without off-street parking.  If you look at a sale that includes off-street parking and claim that the entire sales price should be used to calculate the per square foot value of the retail space, that will substantially inflate the value of the retail space.  The real estate agents have been doing a dance with their vastly different numbers, and my agent has been searching for other buildings to go on the market at a price he considers more reasonable.  I’ve offered considerably more than my agent considers a “fair” price, but we still don’t have a deal.  If we reach an agreement on the price, I’ll pass along more information about the location and an estimate on when the Uncles might re-open; but there’s no point in doing that now.

Blyly continues to sell off his personal collection of books, with the money going toward reopening the Uncles.

I’ve been working seven days per week (but fewer hours when real estate matters claim a lot of time) on listing the books in my personal library on Abebooks.com, and I’m now working on the authors with a last name starting with Pa (although I jumped ahead to list Terry Pratchett and Clifford Simak because of multiple requests for those authors, and most of their books were signed)

You can view the Uncles’ Abebooks listing by going here and clicking “View this seller’s items”. You should be aware that none of the images of the books are supplied by me, but rather are stock images from Abebooks which may or may not be accurate. Also, Abebooks wants to sell books, not necessarily just my books, so they make it easy to accidentally go from viewing the Uncles books to viewing books from hundreds of dealers.

He advises customers:

Abebooks takes a commission on both the price of the book and on the shipping charge, so I make more money if you buy directly from me instead of through Abebooks (email me (UncleHugo@aol.com) with what you want to buy and I’ll explain how to go about it). If you only want to buy one book, it costs you the same whether you go through Abebooks or directly through me, but if you want to buy multiple books you will save on shipping by buying directly from me. The money from selling my personal library will go into the pot of money to try to re-open the Uncles.

4 thoughts on “Save Uncle Hugo’s – December 2021 Update

  1. Protests don’t happen in neatly delineated geographical areas. Perhaps the “mostly peaceful” protests weren’t the proximate cause of the arson but they sure as shooting were the direct cause.

  2. @Miles Carter: That seems like a speculation without evidence, and I think I see the ghost of William of Ockham wagging his finger at you.

    Why? Because opportunism is a known thing: It’s absolutely notorious that arsonist- or other-lawbreaker- faction B will take advantage of unrelated faction A having distracted the attention of first responders, to do crimes and get away with it — without any other connection between the groups existing.

    It is also true that street protests can, and often do, draw otherwise unrelated people who converge on it seeking mayhem, but having little or no interest in what the protest concerns. It’s the way of the world.

    There’s a reason our justice system requires individualised evidence of criminal intent and deeds.

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