The Lima Beads Blog News, Contests, Fun & More

Shopping for Space

Posted by Kevin on March 23 at 02:28 pm

Ann Arbor is an old college town. Most of the buildings downtown (including ours) were built in the mid to late 1800s. This means: narrow hallways, steep staircases, no elevators, and lots of character. The character part is what keeps us downtown. Most companies that do any significant amount of shipping and receiving have moved into one of the industrial zones that are 4 to 5 miles outside of the city. Downtown is full of galleries, jewelry stores, musicians, coffee and book shops, students, and any kind of food you want. The Lima team thrives on this energy, so we’d like to stay downtown if we can.

mattboxThe problem is, we’re drastically in need of new office space. We love the Lima loft, but it causes us a lot of headache. First, when bead shipments arrive, they consist of 12″ x 12″ x 12″ boxes that weight anywhere between 60 and 80 lbs. Steve, Matt, and I carry these boxes up this steep flight of 22 stairs. New office requirement #1: a lift or elevator. 

Secondly, we have a few issues with our restrooms. We have two of them and they are both very small – there’s barely room to turn around. Oh, and let’s not forget that we have no hot water! The old galvanized pipes are so corroded, that by the time water gets to us on the second floor, the pressure is next to nothing. We can get some cold water, but little or no hot. New office requirement #2: updated restrooms.

Finally, our space is divided into many rooms. If you have experience with older buildings (or homes), you know that large open spaces are not very common. Don’t get me wrong, Ali and I live in a house that was built in 1940 and I love the classic style, but when you have a bunch of steel shelving full of beads, walls can just get in the way. Our order packers can tell you, that when several of them are working at the same time, squeezing through doorways can really slow you down. New office requirement #3: an open stock room space.

The 3rd Floor

The 3rd Floor

As you might imagine, trying to find a space that meets these requirements in a 19th century downtown district has not been easy. The entire third floor (above us) is vacant and hasn’t been touched since the 1930s. It was originally used in the 1880s as a Masonic lodge. The owner of the building has suggested that we remodel that and and use it as additional Lima Beads space, but do we want to undertake such a huge project? He did offer to put an elevator or industrial lift in at the back of the building, which would satisfy new office requirement #1.

There is also an old brewery down the street from us that is now empty. It’s basically a big, open warehouse-type space, but in a downtown environment. It’s very cool, but would need heating and cooling, bathrooms, some office space built in, etc. Another huge project…

What kind of space do you work in? Does anyone work in a place that needs about 30% office and 70% open stock-room type space? If so, photos please!

Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. Steve
    Steve says:

    Let me add to the list of new office requirements: a dedicated kitchen area.

    The stack of boxes for a table just isn’t cutting it for the hungry employees! :)


  2. Alice P
    Alice P says:

    My sister in law, her husband and a friend rent a studio in a warehouse district in Kansas City where I show my jewelry once a month. These old warehouses are slowly being turned into galleries and they all open up the first friday of every month. The one they rent has two large open spaces connected by a hallway. There is also a small office, a small loft above one of the galleries for a second office, a nice storrage closet, a nice kitchen and the friend lives in a room connected to one of the galleries. The studio has both a front and back door making it easy to move anything in and out. Here’s a link:

  3. LoriEllen
    LoriEllen says:

    Dang Alice, that place looks nice! :D

    I work on the coffee table while on the couch, haha. That will sound more appealing when I’m finally making a regular income at it, lol. I’ll get there!

  4. J Yee smart chick
    J Yee smart chick says:

    Wow Alice,

    sounds like you have a wonderful space that you, your sister-in-law and husband and friend share, great to see these photos! the photos give the rest of us ideas to consider and aspire to. I don’t have my own studio space but would love to have a group of folks to share studio space as the four of you already do!


  5. J Yee smart chick
    J Yee smart chick says:

    Dear Lima Beads folks,

    I greatly appreciate this posting about the space challenges you’re having in your current location in downtown Ann Arbor – gives a very vivid “picture” of your current situation and what you need in a “next apace”.
    You also describe the two possibilities that have come up well – the unused 3rd floor above, vs. the warehouse down the street – way difficult to imagine I bet, considering that both are huge “projects” in terms of adapting either to your needs… not to mention the $$$ to do all that work. Are there any other folks with their own companies that you might partner with so you can share the new space, work of adapting and costs?

  6. CJB
    CJB says:

    Alice – What a wonderful space! I too am in Kansas City. We’ll have to get together and talk beads and jewelry! We are truly fortunate here in KC because we are in the midst of rennovating downtown and there are a lot of wonderful spaces and buildings with awesome architecture to work with.

    Lima Beads Team – In this economic environment I think landlords are really trying to work with their tenants and keep them, especially ones like you who are successful. You mentioned they offered to add the elevator, which I think is a good sign of them wanting to keep you. You might want to see how far you can go with that, maybe they’ll do some other renovation items for you if you move to the floor above you and stay in the building. Might be able to work a deal with the rent . . .
    Sounds like your choices at this point are going to involve some remodel and rennovation anyway. Are you considering integrating “green” technologies? If the floor above you is on the top floor, maybe you can put a tank on the roof to collect rainwater and solar panels to heat some of the water and to meet at least some of your electrical needs.
    That’s another area KC is fortunate with our current renovations a lot of people are going green as much as possible.
    Good luck with this new challenge your company is facing! Not many companies right now are outgrowing their space and you have a “good” problem. We all look forward to hearing about your journey.

  7. Alice P
    Alice P says:

    KC, what part of KC are you in? I don’t live in Kansas City, but in a small town just south of Topeka, KS. I’m fortunate to have family that lets me show my work at their photography gallery at the First Friday events in the Crossroads District.

  8. CJB
    CJB says:

    Alice P -

    I’m right smack in the middle of downtown. I work at 9th and Main. .

  9. MaryJo K
    MaryJo K says:

    Well, Kevin, there’s a very lovely old and roomy building in nearby Marshall. The building even has a name…it’s The Pineapple House. I bet you could store a lot of beads there and also have room to breathe.

  10. No Photo
    M Lyles says:

    Still lost as an Easter Egg.

  11. Vampire Chickie Ravin
    Vampire Chickie Ravin says:

    Kevin, just wanted to say thank you. I placed my very first order with LB around about the time of the Easter Egg Hunt. I received my order quickly, well packaged, and the starburst was just the icing on the cake. Everything was gorgeous, though I think there might have been a tiny mistake, I don’t remember ordering the kissing bird charms, but that’s ok, as soon as I saw them, I got an idea on how to use them. You guys are awesme here at LB, and I can honestly say that finding this site likely saved my sanity, if not my life, and believe me, I am not in any way, shape, or form, exadurating. Thank you so much, for creating such an amazing site, all of you. Brightest Blessings to you all, and Wind to thy Wings!

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