By JOHN T. WARD
This edition of Retail Churn reports on the departures from downtown Red Bank of three high-profile businesses:
• Lucky Break Billiards, which was the subject of a bring-your-own-booze enforcement crackdown last year.
• The ARC of Monmouth Thrift Shop, a fixture on Monmouth Street for some three decades.
• Ten Thousand Villages, a Broad Street retailer of fair trade crafts.
Regular redbankgreen readers may recall the bizarre tale of Lucky Break’s unlucky break last year, when it suddenly found itself caught in a bureaucratic nightmare over whether its customers could have some beer or wine while playing in the West Front Street pool hall.
Coverage of the issue by redbankgreen forced town officials to relent and agree to let the hall operate just as it had been for 18 months. But the financial toll of the intervening three-month shutdown was just too much for the business to bear, owner James Hertler tells Churn via email. He writes:
Yes, we are closed. I was clear with the mayor and everyone else we spoke to when we were trying to resolve our issues with the borough that the business was on the line. Without BYOB our business was about a third of what it should have been and we couldn’t cover the cost of employees, so we closed the business. We had no revenue coming in while we were closed and we were not making rent payments. We had never missed a payment before and we had offered to repay the three months we missed over time, but the landlord was unwilling to wait. Lawyers got involved and we ultimately agreed to leave the space.
[Partner Jeff Regen] and I had high hopes for the Lucky Break. We had a lot of loyal customers. We had built the business over time and we were looking into some partnerships and other opportunities to grow the business. But I estimate that our problems with the borough cost the business twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars and with all that we had invested to get the business where it was, we just didn’t have the reserves to fix the problem.
The departure puts the space, at 14 West Front Street, back on the market. It was vacant for four years before Lucky Break opened in early 2012
After some three decades, the ARC of Monmouth has closed its thrift shop at 77 Monmouth Street, where shoppers would go for bargains in the form of used clothing, books and more.
“It was meant to be a fundraiser for ARC,” organization executive director Mary Scott tells Churn. And for many years it was, thanks to voluntary staffing by parents of handicapped clients. But over time, the store had to increasingly rely on paid staff, until it was no longer making money, she said.
The upside of the closing is that the ARC, which owns the building, stands to get a nice infusion of cash from the sale. Ray Smith of Stafford Smith Commercial Realty has the listing, with an asking price of $825,000.
After nine years in downtown Red Bank, Ten Thousand Villages plans to close March 22. A note on the store webpage offers no reason for the closing.