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TOPIC: Buy My Theater

Buy My Theater 26 Aug 2009 11:16 #32203

  • lionheart
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Ok. I took the plunge a few years ago and bought on old single screen theater that hadn't operated for 12 years. I spent everything I had and borrowed that much more, and then spent that too. It cost me twice what had been projected. I thought at least some of the building systems would be useable or partially useable. Nope. Everything, and I mean everything, had to be replaced. Only the structure itself was mostly useable. A lot of that required extensive repair. We had to add fire sprinklers as well. And of course we twinned it in the process. The resulting theater is great. It has all the charm you could expect from small town theater. Most customers give lots of great feedback. The community loves us.

The problem is that I sacrificed too much to get the place going. I sold our family home and bought a much smaller, older home in order to get the first half of all that money I spent. I gave up a good paying job to move to the small town. I had to give up the group insurance and replace it with an inferior policy that won't pay on any pre-existing conditions. (That is a major concern at this point.) I gave up the chance for my family to have the kind of life they expected. My kids don't have the opportunity to do all the stuff that the other kids do. They are too young to go and do it without us. We don't have any family or close friends in this area to help us with all the activities they would like to take part in. Seeing movies doesn't make up for being left out of everything else.

Now our debts are large. I'm tapped out. I don't have enough money to properly promote the business or to make the few needed improvements to the theater that remain. I certainly won't have the money for quite a while to buy a bigger home or make improvements in our personal lives. My family is paying the price for my dream. And we are all ready to go on to something else.

I listed my theater for sale on this site and other places. I used a new account name so that people wouldn't know it was me. I guess I was a bit embarrassed that it would look like I didn't know what I was doing, or that I was a failure, or whatever. Now, I realize that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. I have built a very nice theater out of the ruins of an old one. I have brought greater quality of life to a small town that really needed it. I have created a business that does bring in money. Even though the place is less than a year old, we have been earning enough since the beginning to pay ourselves a small salary. Not every start-up can make that claim. Ideally, I would have had enough money left at start-up to operate for a couple of years without making any money. I did not. That means that I am undercapitalized... a common and classic problem with new businesses.

The good news is that there is an opportunity here for someone who has read this post and knows that they will not have the same problems as us, or who is willing to endure them for the sake of the opportunity. If you are looking to own a theater, then consider mine. There are 20,000 people in our county and no other theaters. The nearest competition is 22 miles away. With proper promotion, you can attract a larger market share than we have achieved. I have ideas to improve our bottom line and attract more customers, and I will share them with those who are interested. I just can't do them myself.

I know one of the things that keeps people from being interested in our theater is the location. We are in Checotah, Oklahoma. It's the home of Carrie Underwood. It's not near most of you, or most others who have ever responded to my ads. But, if you don't mind relocating, or if you are interested in low cost of living areas, then this place could be just right for you.

If you are interested, then see my ad in the classifieds section of this site. My ad is the one for the Gentry Cinema with the brown stucco facade.

It is not as small as it looks. It is the right size for this community.
Last Edit: 26 Aug 2009 11:22 by lionheart.
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Re:Buy My Theater 26 Aug 2009 11:47 #32204

  • slapintheface
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Theater looks very nice and that population should be able to support up to 4 screens . Best of luck your theater looks like a GEM.
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Re:Buy My Theater 26 Aug 2009 12:42 #32205

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Lionheart,

Are you willing to make this a case study here? Meaning have us give feedback/ideas/opinions? Unfortunately it is a horrible time to sell anything these days. We all could learn from this.
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Re:Buy My Theater 26 Aug 2009 12:54 #32206

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I am willing, but understand that the decision to sell has already been made and nothing anybody can say will change our minds. I'm sure some comments would be geared toward trying to make the theater more successful without selling, but we will just have to let the future owners benefit from them. My highest priority is my family, not my business.

So, let the case study begin.
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Re:Buy My Theater 26 Aug 2009 15:53 #32207

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The reason I ask is what if you do not find a buyer? Then what?
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Re:Buy My Theater 26 Aug 2009 17:09 #32209

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Hello lionheart:

I wholeheartedly with you that family is of the primary importance. My wife and I have raised our children and are now enjoying a bunch of grandchildren.
So if you have trouble selling it and want someone to run it for you so you can get back to where you came from (I love small towns) shoot me an email and we'll talk.
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re:Buy My Theater 26 Aug 2009 17:25 #32211

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I'm not sure what we will do if we can't find a buyer. If I land a new job soon, then we may have to close the doors until a buyer can be found. I'd hate to do that, but it may be the only available course of action. We have so much tied up in the cinema that we would need to cash out to start over someplace else.

I know that there are many people and/or companies out there considering buying a theater. Many (including some who post on this forum) have contacted me. I think our location is a problem for many. Others say our theaters don't seat enough people. It's true they are smaller than most, but I believe they are the right size for this community. If demand for seats was too high, we would simply add more shows. If business were brisk enough, someone could purchase the building next door and convert it to another screen. It's for sale.
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Re:Buy My Theater 26 Aug 2009 17:29 #32213

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Revrobor,

If it comes down to needing someone to run it for us, I'll certainly remember you.
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Re:Buy My Theater 27 Aug 2009 07:55 #32220

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Have you listed it on craigslist? You might find a buyer on there.
Last Edit: 27 Aug 2009 07:55 by LDCarter.
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Re:Buy My Theater 27 Aug 2009 08:30 #32221

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Yes, we have listed it on craigslist many times. We have received many responses, but it seems most are only curious and not serious enough to follow up past the first e-mail. We had one couple come and look at the place, never to be heard from again. They knew nothing about the movie business and had never considered a theater before seeing our ad online. I knew they wouldn't be back.

We have also listed on ebay, cinematreasures, loopnet, and bizbuysell. The first two have produced quite a bit of interest. The other two never resulted in any response and they tout themselves as the biggest and best on the internet for selling commercial property or businesses (and are priced that way).

I have also listed with a local real estate agent. He only put the sign in our window yesterday, so we will see if any local is interested. I was trying to avoid this because I didn't want our customers to know it was for sale, but since I couldn't find anyone else, I have to give it a try.

The bottom line is that no good prospects have resulted so far.
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Re:Buy My Theater 27 Aug 2009 11:28 #32223

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I have always used loopnet in the past and bought my theater online from an ad on BIZQUEST.
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Re:Buy My Theater 10 Sep 2009 12:58 #32284

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One thing that I worried about has started to happen. Some people around here have started to assume that a "for sale" sign on the building means the theater is closing. It may or may not be true, depending on the order of events. I mean it could close if no buyer is found before I find a new job. But, for now we have no immediate plans to close the doors. We prefer to sell seamlessly to a new owner.

If people think we are closing, they may come even less. And at a time when business is seasonally low anyway. This is exactly why I wouldn't let the realtor put the sign on the building for a while.
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