Frankly Speaking: The opportunity of a lifetime

Frankly Speaking name commercial lease hospitality

Source: Private Media

Have you ever had an opportunity present itself to you that you just can’t ignore?

You know, the kind of situation that gives you a little tingle at the back of the neck and a flutter in your stomach?

My sister Angie and I call this The Feeling, deserving of capitals, and it’s happened our whole lives. 

“How do you feel about that, did you get The Feeling?”, we’ll often ask each other when faced with a tough decision. 

We are both driven by that gut urge, that intuition that gets under your skin and captures your attention. Ignoring it feels like an unravelling of destiny itself. 

One not-so-long-ago day, I got The Feeling. One of the biggest of my life. 

I was standing in the front yard of my childhood home in Coburg, the house where my parents still live, and my grandparents lived before them.

My youngest was running around the majestic olive tree in the middle of the garden. 

Beyond its branches sits an old strip of Victorian shopfronts. Across the intersection, an old double-fronted fruit and veg shop that was long ago turned into flats.

Opposite our house, there is no sign of the much-loved milk bar that was an almost-daily player in my childhood; in its place sits a modern monstrosity of townhouses.

I can’t tell you how much it broke my heart when that facade was torn down.

Finishing the row, only two original shopfronts remain — Reynard’s Meats and the Yarn Barn. The Yarn Barn had been sold during the pandemic. Its windows are papered up and my mother tells me it too will be turned into a residence. 

And so, here I was, reflecting on a time when I used to play in the front yard and a whole village sat across from me, when I noticed the butcher shop, a simple “For Lease” sign stuck in its window with a phone number. 

Frank, the butcher there for the last 16 years, had deservedly retired at the start of the new year, and for the first time in my life, here sat an opportunity. The Opportunity that my sister and I had always talked about.  

Years ago, when the milk bar was sold, we were devastated at its loss. We had desperately wanted to buy it, to save it and to turn it into a cafe, a spot for the local community to gather, a place where we could revitalise what Reynard Street once was. The butcher shop was the last shopfront left. Was this our chance?

I called her, my heart pounding, already bubbling with excitement. 

“There’s a “For Lease” sign in the butcher shop,” I said.

Her next words set into motion the biggest pivot of our lives: “Leave it with me.”

I trusted her. Angie is a real do-er, a modern day genie that can somehow make any wish a reality. She just makes things happen. While we both believe in following our intuition, I am definitely the more practical and risk-averse, whereas she is full of ideals. A real “why not?” kind of person. 

In the end, it’s the perfect partnership, with each of us balancing out the other. 

In her corner is also Kon, her husband and the final member of this soon-to-be hatched business partnership. As is their motto, money comes and goes, but regret lasts forever.

Less than 20 minutes later, Angie had spoken with the real estate agent and set up an inspection. The three of us were onboard. If we could get the shop, it was happening.

Back on the phone with her, I paused for a moment. 

After two babies, a pandemic and recently leaving stable full time work to go freelance (because of the two babies), I was the most broke I’d ever been. 

“I have to tell you, if we do this, I have absolutely zero money I can contribute. I don’t want to miss this, but I don’t know what I can offer.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll work it out,” she said, in her reassuring big-sister voice. 

Intuition. It’s the strangest phenomenon, but has always served us well. 

As we gave into it, would it pay off?

Chryssie Swarbrick is a writer, small-business-juggler and mum of two. She is currently documenting her adventures in opening a cafe, Two Franks, opposite her childhood home.

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Juris
Juris
1 month ago

Not sure if I got this right but you say you you’ve gone into a business with limited capital, if this is true you need your head read, we’re about to go into the toughest economic times any person bar somebody born in the 1930’s has ever seen.
This so called real estate agent that you say you made a deal with, well that’s like doing a deal with Satin, these commercial real estate agents that lease these strip shops are worse than Hitler.

chiron34
chiron34
1 month ago
Reply to  Juris

Juris, it’s called being entrepreneurial. It’s what entrepreneurs do; they see an opportunity where others can’t and if they are faced with a problem or difficulty then either they fix it or work around it. There is always a reason not to start a business. Star entrepreneurs deal with that. I work with entrepreneurs. They think outside the box and operate outside the envelope. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit.

I wish the trio every success in this project and admire the spirit in which this project is being undertaken. It’s one thing to start a business, it’s quite another to do it in the full glare of public scrutiny.

And if anyone wants to challenge my perception of working in the hospitality industry, check out The Raintree Club of Kuala Lumpur: a case study in business turnaround (chironthebusinessdoctor.com)

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