Harry G. Ochs Faces Eviction
Posted 10 February 2011 - 08:06 PM
More facts need to come out, but I would think that part of the Market's mission would be to do what it takes, up to and including subsidizing the rent, to keep a long term merchant (over 100 years) the caliber of Ochs # Sons part of the market.
Posted 10 February 2011 - 08:13 PM
Posted 11 February 2011 - 06:40 AM
Wonder if Bob Libkind has any information on this?
Any day now, Any day now, I shall be released
Dogs are never gratutious
Posted 11 February 2011 - 07:12 AM
Posted 11 February 2011 - 07:27 AM
Posted 11 February 2011 - 10:58 AM
Posted 11 February 2011 - 06:50 PM
Posted 12 February 2011 - 10:40 AM
I think the concerns that the RTM would become just a tourist mall, a la Quincy market, are overdone. Just look at the market's mission statement and operating policy guidelines, as well as its actions in finding new vendors and helping existing ones for the proof. Rick's Steaks (clearly a tourist-oriented business if there ever was one) has ceded to an expanded Fair Foods offering an incredible variety of local produce, meats and cheeses. (And four stalls are now selling cheese steaks, where there used to be just one.) The market found a way to retain a specialty pork butcher to replace one who folded, and brought in a new local farmer when Earl Livengood decided to concenterate elsewhere. The RTM's proposed acquisition of Farm to City likewise demonstrates its commitment to local food.
Indeed, the lunch counters and and non-food vendors actually subsidize purveyors like Ochs, the other butchers, fish mongers and produce stalls. Under the market's policy, they pay less rent than the others.
As for an additional subsidy for Ochs based on longevity, that would raise the hackles of the other fish, meat and produce vendors. Why should he get a better deal than them, especially his competitors? Do you think Charles Giunta (Giunta's Prime Shop), Martin Giunta (Martin's Quality Meats), Moses Smucker (Smucker's Quality Meats) or Amos Riehl (L. Halteman) would stand for that?
The market's "Purveyors" -- the term the market uses for the market's butchers, greengrocers and fishmongers -- all pay the same basic rent. The "Food Basket" (dairy, coffee, bakery, etc.), "Mercantile" (non-food) and "Food Court" (lunch stands, etc.) vendors pay higher rents.
For a more detailed discussion of how the market structures its leases, and some of the history behind it, I've prepared a "white paper" on my blog: RTM Lease Structure.
Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:04 PM
Thanks for the excellent summary of RTM's lease structure. I hope that, indeed, Harry G. Ochs and Sons comes through this unscathed.
Yes, the expanded Fair Foods stand is a great use of Rick's Steak space. But, as I recall, when Rick's Steak eviction was initiated, the board's intent was to replace Rick's Steaks with a Tony Luke's franchise. One could conclude that Fair Foods getting the space was a PR move undertaken because the Rick's Steaks unjust eviction had become such an inflammatory and divisive issue.
I take exception whenever RTM management compares itself to the Gallery and other malls to justify or minimize its actions. That the board and management see Reading Terminal Market as any way similar to a shopping mall is a big part of the problem.
It is not just Harry G. Ochs and Sons that I believe has earned special consideration. Any long term merchant has. The hundred year merchants, especially, are the soul of the market; its historic foundation. The lead commitment in the Market's Mission statement is "To preserve the architectural and historical character, and function, of the Reading Terminal Market as an urban farmersí market." I'm not sure how a lawyer letter threatening the eviction of one of the market's oldest merchants helps to preserve the market's historical character and function.
Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:35 PM
Yes, the RTM is not a mall. But it is a conglomeration of retail businesses in the same way. Some management tools and approaches that a mall uses are not necessarily counter-productive when applied to a public market like the RTM. The main difference is that the RTM is not there to maximize profit for a private-sector landlord; rather, it's to support its mission. And part of that mission is to assure the financial viability of all its merchants as well as the entity (the RTM) that makes their businesses possible.
I can't think of another "hundred year" merchant other than Ochs. And I still say it would be grossly unfair to subsidize one butcher at the expense of the others. If they can make a profit paying their fair share, so can Ochs; if Ochs can't, then they need to rethink their business. The other butchers shouldn't be forced to create profits for Ochs by giving up some of theirs to subsidize Ochs' rent.
The late Harry (and his son Nick) are indeed, sweethearts, nice guys, and purveyors of excellent meat. But they don't need the sweetheart deal Holly proposes to survive and prosper.
Posted 12 February 2011 - 01:27 PM
Didn't realize Ochs is the only hundred year merchant. That kinda makes it worse that the market is even considering eviction rather than working with him.
Posted 03 May 2011 - 09:07 AM
Paul Steinke, general manager of the market, said: "We're sorry to see them go. We'll long remember the Harry Ochs name. Despite many attempts to reach an agreement to satisfy Nick's financial obligation to the market, we were unable to resolve those issues. But we wish him and his family well."
The Reading Terminal
Posted 04 May 2011 - 06:31 AM
That said, clearly it wasn't the $21,000 in back rent that was causing Nick's biggest problems. Based on Michael Klein's report today, Nick was facing more than $200,000 in judgments on loans issued by two banks.
To suggest that an evil RTM management bears responsibility for putting Nick out of business replaces fact with fantasy. Bad luck and/or bad management, or some combination thereof, is the culprit.
Posted 04 May 2011 - 07:30 AM
If I don't pay rent for my ten year old business, I expect to be evicted. When the oldest and only hundred year merchant in a historic market, a public trust, has problems, I expect the management's reaction to be supportive - focused marketing and merchandising assistance, management consulting, a break on the rent for a few years with the opportunity to catch up down the road.
This time, unlike the expulsion of Rick's Steaks, the management was not "evil" or vindictive. This time they have been disloyal to market tradition and less than competent in supporting a valued merchant.
Posted 04 May 2011 - 03:01 PM
Posted 04 May 2011 - 03:39 PM
If RTM was indeed the same as the Gallery or a regional shopping mall, as the former board chairman asserted, then it would be simple. Pay the rent or get evicted. But RTM is not just another mall. It is an historic market with tradition and continuity.
Quite simply - last week the market had a merchant who had been there for over a hundred years. Now it doesn't. But as long as management is "sorry to see them go," and will "long remember the Harry Ochs name" I guess they have done all they could.
Posted 05 May 2011 - 04:06 PM
And to me, that means management did their job (albeit largely accidentally).
This time, we lost one of several butchers, and one who obviously was failing to reach market-goers. It isn't fair to the merchants who are succeeding to have Ochs be subsidized - because all you suggest would have been a subsidy, in one form or another. And I find it hard to see what we lost - longevity in and of itself isn't terribly valuable to me.
Posted 05 May 2011 - 08:27 PM
Yes, franchisor and landlord are different business models. Landlord of a historical market and landlord of a mall are also different business models. Mall landlords want suitable tenants that can generate the most rent per square foot. A mall landlord's mission statement does not lead with "To preserve the architectural and historical character, and function, of the Reading Terminal Market as an urban farmersí market." The management of a historical market the caliber of Reading Terminal Market is more franchisor than mall landlord and does indeed have an obligation to do whatever it can to nurture all merchants, especially the long term merchants, and most especially their oldest merchant.
David O'Neil was the Reading Terminal Market manager who, pre-convention center, brought about the Market's renaissance. He recognized and treasured the Market's heritage. I wish he was here today.
Posted 05 May 2011 - 08:36 PM
Harry Ochs was a well-known merchant and led efforts to save the market in the early 1990s, when officials considered shutting it down to make way for the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Ochs and others convinced officials to make the market an integral part of the overall Convention Center footprint.
Once again, no good deed goes unpunished.
Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:27 AM
the article you link to does quote the rtm rep saying they made every attempt to work with ochs. do we know what rtm did to try and work with ochs?
Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:37 AM
Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:42 AM
Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:48 AM
if i was a newer tenant behind on rent and facing eviction and i found out a longer term tenant, also in arrears, was getting preferential treatment i would be getting an attorney involved. probably not what rtm management wants.
Posted 06 May 2011 - 08:54 AM
Posted 06 May 2011 - 09:15 AM
"if you have been a tenant here x amount of years you are allowed to be x amount of months in arrears on rent. but if you work with us and take our marketing advice you are allowed to be further in arrears. if you are in arrears and don't take advantage of our offer to help your business you can only be ......etc."
which begs the question, if the rtm possesses some unique marketing skills that can help a tenant's business, why wait to offer that help until you are behind in rent?
as long as och's isn't replaced with some crappy chain or local chain pizza place, or what have you, i don't really have a problem with evicting a tenant when they are a year behind on rent. sad when it's a long time tenant who has helped shaped the markets image but i just don't see how you can keep on giving them preferential treatment when the other tenants are paying their rent in a timely fashion.