Backspace, Facing New Year's Eviction Deadline, Looking to Raise Cash

Comments

1
I think Backspace is great, but I don't think the community should encourage bad business management by providing free money every time a local place is about to shutter due to financial irresponsibility.
2
Backspace is one of the most creatively inspiring sit down shops inPortland. Many minds blown. Many epiphanies had.
3
Hosting benefit shows gives to the community, and there's no shame in asking the community to give a little extra back when it's needed. Seems like every time a local business is in trouble and tries to do some short-term fundraising, there are always a few commenters around to dispense lessons on fiscal responsibility and the moral implications of "encouraging" something or other, but who almost certainly haven't seen the books, don't know what the landlord has or hasn't done but still want to dispense "tough love" and lessons about fiscal responsibility.
4
I can't imagine Old Town without Backspace. I will do whatever I can to help. I don't think the issue is so much bad management as increased competition. When they opened there wasn't much else like it in the area. Now there are many more places to go. Still Backspace is a very unique place and it would be a tragedy if they had to close.
5
@Tom - I like hanging out at backspace, I like their shows (especially because they're all ages).

Yet: their food sucks (horribly sucks), their beer sucks, and the service usually isn’t that great. It’s time for a management change.

It would suck to lose Backspace, but this then means that there is opportunity for improvement. I actually doubt that the landlord has another occupant lined up, because there's already an abundance of low-cost retail/restaurant space in that area – so the chance that another all-ages venue/café will open is unlikely, it’s unlikely anything will re-open in that place for years.

The current owner should probably just sell his business. I’m fairly certain he could find a buyer for that place at $80k or $100k. Obviously I haven’t looked at their books, but the place appears to have few assets sans a sound system and bar.
6
What fidelity said. Last time I was at Backspace (a while ago, I admit) it was hard to sit anywhere because the seats were filthy. I think the same thing happened to a shop out here in the 'tron, where they had pretty good coffee but a schizophrenic homeless person they let wander around scared customers away.

Sometimes keeping a positive, worthwhile business open means being a hardass. And a business like Backspace deserves a manager who's smart enough to find that balance.

I'll be interested to see how this develops.
7
@geyser I would actually like to know more about the financial aspect of this - like did he just miss a single month, and it's been rolling over and accumulating late fees? Or was it part of a pattern? You have to admit that on the surface, his situation doesn't inspire much sympathy. Based on the info in the article, it sounds literally like a benefit for a business owner who didn't pay his rent.

Maybe there's a backstory. Maybe there's some real hardship behind this, but we wouldn't know based on the information here.
8
@sgtgrumbles: The post, I thought, answered that first question: "...enough to catch up on **the lapsed rent payment he's been carrying over every month for the past year** and also clear thousands in late fees."

Later, I reported Robison talking about rent increases in recent years and what he would argue is a lack of improvement to the space.
9
Admittedly i don't often go to Backspace, only b/c it's not really of main interest to me. But i do recognize it as an important mainstay in dt, an a definite void would be left in its absence much like the loss of Satyricon.

Sounds to me like Eric Robison is truly doing all he can, and that David Gold is simply a greedy capitalist fuck who's systematically jacked up rent on Backspace for years, and is now trying to hit Robison up for thousands more in "late" fees.

Would be unfortunate to see it go, as dt Portland is already being gutted every which way. And i guarantee you that this mysterious new tenant won't be nearly as interesting. Sounds like Pearl-creep to me.

Btw, i wonder if this is the same David Gold that is trying to push out the Right-2-Dream-Too camp:

https://streetroots.wordpress.com/2012/12/…
10
sad to say, but: I stopped giving a shit about all-ages venues many years ago. possibly around the time I turned 21
11
Thanks for updating with more info. I was commenting on the original post. Speaking of, did you add the word "payment" to paragraph 2? If not, ignore me. I feel like that sentence was more vague in its original form.
12
Fuck the scolds like sgtgrumbles. You know what I'd like to encourage more of? Everything that Backspace does. Financial mismanagement, my ass. In the 10+ years of their operation, they have been a constant and consistent benefit to the community in so many ways, and have never before needed to ask for money themselves.

Furthermore, we are in a depression, in case you haven't noticed. Times are hard on everybody, and have been for years. Unemployment is ridiculously high, people have had to tighten their belts, and that means spending less money at places like Backspace. Is that Backspace's fault? It's a miracle they have lasted this long in this economic climate. People act like this stuff happens in a vacuum, that mismanagement is the only reason that businesses fail, and once a business that has given so much to so many asks for help themselves, the scolds come out, people like sgtgrumbles who don't know jack about the situation but take it upon themselves to moralize about how worthless Backspace is simply because they are in a hard situation.

And right before Christmas, no less! Jesus! No man is an island, if you want to be an island, go live on one and let the rest of us work together and support each other without listening to your selfish ass.

I love Backspace, it is a city treasure, and I'll be doing everything I can to support it and give back to it.
13
Backspace is a mainstay of the Indy tech scene, lots of biz meetings there and the food is good! Plus vegan friendly. Big loss if it goes.
14
"sad to say, but: I stopped giving a shit about all-ages venues many years ago. possibly around the time I turned 21"

So what you're saying is, you got yours so to Hell with everyone else, right?
15
Saying "the beer sucks" at a place with Ninkasi taps is just about the dumbest fucking comment on Blogtown in days.
16
If you like Backspace, throw them some cash if you want. If you don't care, don't. What is there to comment on? The owner was clear it's just a band-aid until he can move, how much more clarity do you need before you throw someone a few bucks?

For all the people speculating on what the owner or the landlord should do, just STFU and stop embarrassing yourselves. No one is in a better position to know their own options, and your assumptions undoubtedly seem ludicrous to both of them.

The guy's asking for some money from sympathetic patrons, not a business primer from people who have in all likelihood never run a similar business in their lives.
17
Owners have property management groups who rent space to retailers or people who want to own a restaurant or whatever. There are lease contracts that are signed. The owner is not a greedy capitalist fuck just because his property management company is enforcing parts of the contract (late fees) Robison obviously signed. Those are pretty standard on any contract FYI. If you don't pay your cell phone bill there is a late fee to reconnect. If I don't pay my rent for my apartment on time there is a late fee.

I don't really care if anyone gives money Backspace. That's your right. Probably best not to blame the owner though. He's not the one that can't pay the rent.
18
Guspacho - I understand your meaning, but we are not in a depression. We aren't even in a recession any longer. Unless you go by definitions of the two that I am unfamiliar with, as there are actually economic specifics and definitions that the two words have. I hate to be pedantic about it, but this country hasn't been in a depression since the first half of the 20th century.

Backspace is a wonderful, wonderful place. Like most people over 21, I more or less stopped caring about all ages venues/hangouts as soon as I turned 21 or got a fake ID. But when I was a kid back in the mid-90's living in Bend, I own/operated/managed/whathaveyou an all ages venue/hangout of my own. I haven't been to Bend in over a decade at this point, but it was a MUCH different place from what I have been told of what the town is like now. Simply by being an all ages venue/dance club/de facto queer hangout (by virtue of the fact that we hosted PFLAG meetings, events, had safer sex literature, etc) put a gigantic target on our heads with the local government who found every reason they could to put us through the ringer.

And on top of that, we were constantly in financial trouble because as much as kids love to complain about not having a place to be when there isn't.. they don't do a whole lot to support it when it does exist (and in my experience, would often actively bitch when it doesn't meet their specific expectations). The landlord eventually put us on a week to week agreement, our troubles with paying the bills were so bad. And yes, more then once we had to have emergency summits with our community of kids and friendly business owners to pass around the hat hoping that they would save our ass from closing down. It sucks when you have to do it, but there is nothing wrong with turning to your customer base when what you provide to them is in danger of disappearing.

Particularly when your business is one like Backspace, or my own way back when. When you provide a safe place for underage kids to be while bringing entertainment to town and all that which comes with having a venue/cafe and are in crisis, turning to that same community to plea for help to assure its continued existance is perfectly okay. I will be sorely disappointed if they are unable to raise the funds necessary to remain open, not with Backspace, but for the community it supports. I can't honestly say I have given a whole lot to their business in the past as a customer. But I went there and gave 5 dollars personally to the interest of them remaining open. Not a whole lot of money obviously, but all I can really muster at the moment..