In early August of 2017 all the tenants of our building, an artist's warehouse called The Glashaus, got a 30 day eviction notice.
Long story short: The City of San Diego wanted $150k to issue permits, our landlord didn’t want to pay the fees, so the City shut down the building.
We twenty-odd artists and businesses of the Glashaus family scattered to the wind in search of new digs. After a few weeks of Lee putting her famous tenacious solution-finder skills to work, we found our new home.
To be fair, we probably should have been looking years ago. We moved Paleo Treats out of our house and into The Glashaus in late 2012. We hired our first employees and reveled in the freedom of not running shipping operations out of our living and laundry rooms.
We brought more people in between 2013 and 2015, but the 342 square feet we had wasn’t pleasant for more than 2, max 3 people to be in at any one time. At one point we had 5 of us working in there; talk about cramped!
We also expanded our storage requirements over the years. Back in 2012 we didn’t ship much, didn’t buy shipping materials in bulk, and didn’t need a bunch of space.
As we became a busier business we started to order pallets of shipping boxes, ice packs, and custom made insulation liners. Getting fairly delicate desserts across the country in the middle of summer is not a cheap or easy task.
One of the ways we learned to make it less expensive was by ordering our shipping supplies in bulk. That’s great for cutting costs, not so great when 3 pallets of boxes arrive and you have nowhere to put ‘em.
Drawing on our scrappy skills, we expanded. First by cutting a hole in the wall and building the infamous hobbit hole.
It was a space about 3 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 20 feet long that every kid who visited our office explored, including one who emerged and proudly said, "I made a popping carpet!" It was out of the bubble wrap he'd found in there. He was very pleased with himself, and while I wasn't happy about all the burst bubbles, his stoke made up for it.
The hobbit hole wasn't enough, and we slowly took over half of a shipping container on the property. Occasionally we’d just leave a few pallets out in the middle of the main space of our building; there was no other place to store them!
With all our available space stuffed to the gills with shipping consumables, the signs were clear that we needed more.
On top of the space requirement we had two other big issues.
First, everything surrounding Shipping was hard to get to and inefficient to do.
Whether you were laying out a big order on our small rolling table or crawling into the hobbit cave for ice packs, or wheeling slippery insulation liners back and forth from the shipping container to our office (then carrying ‘em down the stairs), there was an added time and energy cost to almost all our operations.
Second, we didn’t have a lot of foot traffic. This wasn’t a cost as much as it was a missed opportunity. We’d get a few people who’d manage to navigate to our address, get lost at least once, ask at the glassblowing studio in the front of our building if they were in the right place, and eventually find our little office in the back of the building.
We thought when we first moved in that the walk-in traffic would pay our rent, and it did, but rent was only $600 a month!
As we searched for a new space, we looked for somewhere that would address all of our issues.
We looked at huge warehouses with 30,000 square feet we’d have to divide up and sublet, we looked at smaller spaces in high end locations, we looked at tiny spaces (including one smaller than our office!)
None of them were a good fit. Too pricey, too much work, not big enough, not the right location. The list of “Too and Not” went on and on. Finally, Lee found a spot!
A mile away from our house was a squat little building with a “For Rent” sign in the window. Within walking or biking distance for most of our employees and with a bus stop out front (Paleo Treats offers free public transport for all employees), it looked like a perfect spot.
Ugly as sin when we first walked in, it was a hidden gem. It had good structure, plenty of parking, and beautiful light.
Half a block from an intersection (30th and Adams) recently named as “Top Foodie Corner of San Diego”, we saw more people walk by in an hour than we’d seen at our old office in a month.
Yes! We signed the lease and got to work!
We ripped down dividing walls that blocked light and ground off the black paint from the concrete floor (I can recommend not doing that if you don’t like work.)
We patched ugly holes in the walls, removed a bunch of hanging lights and room dividers, sold most of the furniture that came with it and repainted the walls. Whew!
Our tribe rallied, from our web developer dropping by to lend a hand tearing down walls to an entrepreneur professor from USD helping patch and paint. Family stopped by to visit, our incredible interior designer friend poked her head in, and lots of artists from the Glashaus came by to offer suggestions for making it beautiful.
Of course, my old Navy buddies lent a hand on moving day; it’s awfully nice to have ogres help lift all the heavy stuff.
Yep, those boxes were once stored in the hobbit hole! It’s been a ton of work and we’re still (as of early September 2017) sorting out what goes where and how best to use the space.
We’re working on making a retail space in the front and finally giving our Shipping Department the space they need. We are psyched to build out a super efficient operation in the back office, and to learn way more about physical retail in the front.
Please stop by and visit if you’re in San Diego, we’re looking forward to sharing this new space with you!
Paleo Treats Inc
4662 30th St
San Diego, CA 92116
Nik & Lee & The PT Crew
Too much reading...
How about dessert?