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On the right side of the tracks

Anyone in business can tell you that keeping your overhead under control is essential. Although the consensus among economists is that we are not experiencing inflation per se, the cost of everything is steadily rising.

There are up and down cycles but the overall trend is upward. And that includes things like power and utilities and rents. Most shop operators rent their shop space. And, as the useable areas of the planet's surface become more and more in demand, the cost of that space increases.

This is one area in which I lucked out. My shop is in an area that has always been ripe for development. And over the years, the surrounding farm land and open space has gradually been eaten up by big box stores along with their accompanying smaller enterprises like frozen yogurt shops, cell phone stores and nail salons. All of the remaining commercial shop space has increased in value and the rents have risen commensurately. Except for the building my shop is in.

What makes my building an exception is that there is a private railroad easement that runs along the street side. This is owned by a consortium of young, wealthy, amateur railroad buffs. And they are not interested is selling. They like to play with their trains. Anytime someone expresses interest in the property along that street, they run into the issue of having to cross that railroad track to enter their development. This has prevented the owners from being able to sell to developers who would have otherwise eaten up that property long ago.

While I'm not gloating about their difficult position, it has enforced a kind of involuntary control over the value of the property and, along with that, the rents they are able to command. So, even though my view has been radically altered over the years, my rent has remained at a somewhat rational level.


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