After Fridley Theatres moved out of The Strand theater building this week, the marquee above its doors remains blank.
Jennifer Baucom, who anticipated taking over the movie theatre operations as early as Aug. 31, took to Facebook Thursday to express her disappointment and to explain why she wasn’t going to be able to reopen the theatre.
“Despite all of my hard work and my immense desire to keep the theater open, I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” Baucom wrote.
In her post, Baucom claimed Nick Foltz, who owns the building and the equipment left behind within the building, waited until the eleventh hour to present a lease agreement. When she saw the terms of the lease Foltz’s attorney presented this past week, it was not as she and Foltz had discussed verbally in previous conversations.
“I like her. You’re going to be friends, but you got to do business,” said Foltz. “And once you put it on paper and stuff, it didn’t work out (for her) and it didn’t work out for me.”
Foltz said after he had conversations with Baucom, he ran the numbers with his accountant, which showed Foltz would receive little or no profit off the space he is willing to lease.
“I tried to work with her. I gave her two months rent and other things,” he said.
Foltz said, because Baucom was unable to qualify for a loan large enough to purchase the theatre equipment, he entertained the idea of selling it to Baucom on a five year contract. He also said he lowered the rent to $850 a month and proposed shortening the terms of the lease for Baucom to give her an “easy out” should the business not work out for her as she planned.
On July 5, Baucom created a GoFundMe page, to garner the financial support of the community to help reduce her start up costs. Her goal, $10,000. As of this morning, the page has seven donations totaling $545 and seven followers. On the Creston Theaters LLC Facebook page where she has been promoting her upcoming business, Baucom has shared photos of the fixtures and product she has purchased and items such as new theater seating she was hoping to purchase.
“These photos represent all of my hard work these past few months,” Baucom wrote. “They represent all of the time, energy, love, excitement, and personal funds I have poured into this endeavor. But these photos can’t show you the hours of work. They can’t show you the phone calls, emails, meetings, training, late nights, sweaty labor, or the tears I have shed.”
“She jumped the gun on everything,” Foltz said.
What it comes down to is, a legally binding agreement was never signed.
“We were working on terms and there were some back and forth negotiations and numbers were out there ... but there was never a lease agreement,” said Doug Daggett, Foltz’s attorney. “There was definitely talks about a lease agreement and the parties wanted to get to a lease agreement ... but in the end, there wasn’t any lease agreement.”
“I have spent the last 6 days trying to work it out. I tried so hard,” Baucom continued in her post. “I was willing to meet them halfway. But they were unwilling to budge, at least not far enough.”
Baucom said, when she spoke to Foltz’s accountant, “His exact words to me were, ‘Why should Nick have to sacrifice for those first five years? Why can’t you be the one to sacrifice?’” She wrote that she’d be so financially bound she would be unable to pay herself in order to pay her employees, which is common for first-time business owners, who, experts say, often to not turn a profit within its first three years. She also wrote, the proposed lease agreement would cause her to operate $4,000 in the red. So, she declined to sign.
“My business counselor and my attorney/accountant agreed. I can’t make money appear out of thin air,” she said.
Foltz said he wants to keep the theatre open, but will need someone to operate it.
“It’s not like I have a deal or he has a deal in mind, but there is at least one other person right now who has expressed some interest after all this news came down.”
As of 10 a.m. today, Baucom’s post on Creston Theaters LLC had 101 shares and 121 comments, many of which expressed dismay in Foltz.
“It isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault,” wrote Baucom in a follow up post. “I felt that his terms were unreasonable, but he and his lawyer and accountant felt that they were very reasonable. I’m not saying that he was being greedy or that he was trying to gouge me. I’m sure he was just trying to look out for his own best interests financially. As a businessperson I can’t really fault him for that.”
Baucom thanked everyone for their support.
“... I’m not trying to drag his name through the mud,” wrote Baucom. “I have no idea of what his intentions truly were, just that we could not come to an agreement like I thought we could and I am very disappointed that it didn’t work out.”