A Surrey thrift shop is facing a potential move after being warned that its rent could double next spring.
SEVA Thrift Store has been located at 9430 120 St. for six years, and now the company is looking for a more affordable space.
Raj Arneja, part-time manager and chairman of the board of the SEVA company, said there was not much they could do about a rent increase, they were “actively looking to see if we can get something at a rate within reason”.
“We would rather move than close our doors because of what we worked for.”
But the problem is finding a big enough commercial space to rent out, Arneja added.
“We need space. This is the most important thing.
She said it wasn’t just about finding a building with a visible storefront.
“We need to make sure it’s accessible for the community we serve, for the volunteers who rely on their work with us for skills building, networking, social support and community integration, and then the physical renovation of inside: reconstruction of the walls, storage and shelving inside the store.
She said when they moved into their current space, it cost around $60,000 to install.
“Moving this place – as it is – is a huge undertaking. We just don’t have the staff to do it. We all have full time jobs and how are we going to do that? It was all just a shell.
The company was told verbally by its landlord that its rent would double from $6,500 to $13,000. The Now-Leader contacted the owner, who confirmed that he had contacted the company about a raise, but was not responding to any further questions.
Currently – and unlike residential rentals – there is no cap on commercial rent increases.
Anita Huberman, President and CEO of the Surrey Chamber of Commerce, said she had heard of significant increases in commercial rents across Surrey and in Metro Vancouver due to rising costs, property tax increases and other cost increases.
“Landlords and property managers need to pass this increased cost on to their tenants. It’s a common theme I hear about,” Huberman said. “It’s between 3 and 5%, but I’ve never heard of double rent increases like that.”
Parbinder Narman, the company’s treasurer, said she was notified of the potential rent increase in April.
“The first reaction was, ‘Oh, we’re going to have to close,'” she said, adding that if they stayed in their current location, most of the money earned at the thrift store would go to pay for the rent.
And it was only recently that SEVA began to return to pre-COVID sales, she said.
“But basically that little bit better in sales that we’ve been doing is just going to go into increasing the rent.”
Inder Randhawa, the manager of SEVA Thrift Store, said it was an accomplishment to get through COVID.
“We thought it was a crisis and now to get through it and get back on our feet and then get hit by it now,” Randhawa explained. “Throwing a spanner in there and starting over is a huge undertaking. It is a very difficult task at the moment.
In the years since its opening, SEVA has donated a total of $75,000 to support local groups and organizations, including $10,000 in the first year the thrift store opened.
But Narman said that was just the company’s measurable success.
“We gave so much money. But there’s also the immeasurable success that you can’t even put a price on,” she explained, noting that the women who volunteered at the store went on to have successful careers, they kept the clothes out of the landfill and have volunteer opportunities. for people from diverse backgrounds.