Discuss Detroit Archives - January 2008 My suggestion for what Detroit needs - TechShop! Previous Next
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 508
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, January 21, 2008 - 11:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

So if some people can want a cheesecake factory, I can want a place that has unlimited access for one low price to a bevy of machinery such as dry paint hoods, large vehicle bays, vinyl cutters, metal sheet equipment and plastic printers.

A buddy told me about this "soon-to-be-chain" that is mostly planned on the west coast, but I think with the machinery experience so many have in Detroit it could really take off here by being a place for people to do their pet projects, art projects, and inventions. It's called TechShop.

http://techshop.ws/index.html

The idea is simple. For $30 a day, or $100 a month, you get unlimited (scheduled) access to anything in the shop to make your projects. They have really inexpensive classes to teach you the equipment too.

It seems great for rapid prototyping, artistic projects, student groups - and it's open from 9a to midnite (apparently, some of the locations will be 24x7). To me it sounds very interesting, and the perfect kind of business to spark creativity by having tools accessible at a reasonable cost.
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Roaringmouse
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Username: Roaringmouse

Post Number: 25
Registered: 09-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 1:25 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

OMG I would love this!
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Nainrouge
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Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 637
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 9:12 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes, very cool. I sent for information about a franchise. Anyone want to invest?
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 4723
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 9:48 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

TechShop was founded in 2006 by Jim Newton, a lifetime maker, veteran BattleBots builder and former MythBuster.



Sweet.
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Kslice
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Username: Kslice

Post Number: 267
Registered: 04-2007
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 10:54 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ha ha, BattleBots. That fad didn't last long!

Not a bad idea though.
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Nainrouge
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Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 640
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 11:45 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Where would be the best location for it in SE Michigan? Ann Arbor? Detroit near Techtown? Or maybe Redford or someplace like that where a lot of gearheads live?
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 4727
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 11:53 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This would be very handy near CCS, I imagine. They've got the Metal Working students, plus of course the Industrial and Trans Design students, all of which I'm sure would love access to a CNC machine. That alone is not a big enough demographic though.
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Urbanoutdoors
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Username: Urbanoutdoors

Post Number: 712
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 11:57 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't have a ton of money but would be willing to lend what ever I could to get something like that here
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 512
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 12:51 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think the Techtown neighborhood (it is, after all, a 12 block area) would be pretty good for this... gotta have parking, and this kind of endeavour is going to have more industrial needs. A close partnership with a college like WSU or CCS might be a good idea, as well - they could put their leverage, such as contacting alumni, etc. with minimal risk since it's a private investment.

If someone wants to be the person to lead it, I'd be glad to put whatever connections or resources I can toward it. I don't have the liquid to be an investor, but I think it a worthy project and would be willing to attempt to cajole others who are for someone who is truly serious.

I do know that Oakland County would probably love to have something like this in say Ferndale or Troy, and that's where a lot of moneyed people would want to see it located, but I play favorites and I'd rather see it in the city.
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Nainrouge
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Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 642
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 1:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Do you think that there is enough people with money in the city for this to work at Techtown?
Would suburbanites be willing to drive downtown for this? I realize it would be good for the city, but would it make business sense to locate it here and not Oakland County?
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Urbanoutdoors
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Username: Urbanoutdoors

Post Number: 713
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 1:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I believe with wayne state becoming more of a dorm friendly college that there will be much more of a market for that. along with ccs it would do a great business. sure it may generate a little more revenue in oakland county but it would flourish with tech town and the publicity it would get down here not to mention incentives plus a lower rental price for the space.
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 514
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 2:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That's a good question, nain.

I can see, especially with an establishment being open late as TechShop would, many people having security concerns with it. Heck, most of my clients have serious security concerns in the middle of the day (that is a constant, constant annoying problem, hence why I rail about security on this forum - many of my creative counterparts have left the city due to those perceived pressures). These well-educated people literally think if they come downtown there is someone waiting at the border to shoot them.

The only place it could work in the city is a place covered by the WSU police, and hence, I think one of the places with great entrepreneurial potential, Techtown.

I would do somewhere either Techtown or Oakland County near places where techies and artists live - Royal Oak, Madison Heights, Ferndale. I probably due to higher rent and the like wouldn't do it in Troy. Not to mention, if you live in the city, you're going to want a reasonable commute. Of course, finding industrial space in this region is going to be dirt cheap compared to a few years ago so the time is right.

You, in short, need about 500 "members" to break even from doing research on other sites as it was covered in Inc. magazine as well.

Not a huge number, I'd run the numbers and see if you could call and gauge the interest of local colleges and schools. Of course, if you find a school that says "heck yeah, we would love you nearby" and/or supporting companies, you have to go there.

Unfortunately, business can only be swayed so much by emotion. Only when you get to be as big as Compuware or Rock that you have enough inertia as the major money provider (either in jobs or contracts to others) people just deal with wherever you are. But small business needs a lot more to nurture it - and hence why you see the focus on the big players.

p.s. - Urbanoutdoors, I agree with you, except you can't bet on the future possibilities, because you're already needing to ramp up quickly when you open doors - when opening up a shop, you have to have your target market there and ready to buy. I don't know the timetable on those students/etc moving in; it might jive though.

(Message edited by digitalvision on January 22, 2008)
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 4738
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 2:23 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Snap Fitness in Ferndale has proven a 24-Hour members-only establishment can be successful and safe there, even without staff.
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Nainrouge
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Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 643
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 3:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

You saw an article about it in Inc.? Could you post that here?

I am starting to seriously consider a franchise, if someone can convince me that there would be enough interest.
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 515
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 4:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well Nain, I know I would be an occasional user, and might consider a monthly membership especially if I get more free time again. I know that I would actually use the space for the work projects we wish we could do as far as building staging and signage but we don't have the space for it.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20 070701/features-start-up-inven tors-best-friend.html

It was 450 annual members, the break-even point. My bad. But 50 less for you to to have to get :-)

Wherever you decide to do it I'd spread the positive word and do what I could, because it is a good idea and entrepreneurs need to help each other. It's one thing to pontificate - as I did - but you thinking about making it happen I have a large amount of respect for. And I do really want it to happen.

I'd do market research, but I'd second JL's assessment of Ferndale.
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Nainrouge
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Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 646
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 5:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I actually tried to do something similar but as a club, not a business. The idea was is that the members would share their equipment with each other. It never got off the ground because we couldn't find a good (and free) location. As a business, you wouldn't need donated space so it might work out better.

Wow, though, 450 members is a lot of people just to break even.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 4916
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 6:08 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There was (is?) a service garage somewhere near Dequindre where people could bring in their own car parts and install them (or have their people install them).

There are a few (meaning a very small number) of A&P mechanics who would allow owners of small general aircraft to help perform annual FAA-mandated or other aircraft inspections under the supervision of the examiner A&Ps. But really, how many people today even possess any reasonable amount of mechanical ability? There is almost a complete absence of backyard auto mechanics today other than car thieves/scrappers. During the 1950s, mechanics were everywhere.
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Nainrouge
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Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 648
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 6:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think the idea is not just for auto mechanics, but for artists, backyard inventors and the like. There are a lot of machinists, electical engineers, etc. in this area because of the auto industry and a few of them that I know love to putter around with various projects and inventions. Also, the idea of this place would be to teach those skills to those who did not follow that career path but who just like to tinker.
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Bigb23
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Username: Bigb23

Post Number: 329
Registered: 11-2007
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 9:14 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Back in the day, you were allowed to do side projects in shops you worked for.(Off the clock of course!)
But I have all of my fabrication tools at home, but no space to use them around here.(No garage or basement).
What I see is a place with secure cages for storage of your project with available vert. mills, lathes, Mig/Tig welders and press brakes/shears. And metal stock that can be bought off the shelf.
I would be good for 3-6 months at least.
Also, 30 years of shop experience to share too.
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East_detroit
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Username: East_detroit

Post Number: 1419
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 10:19 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Would a TechShop also have hoists for cars?

I'd really like to be able to paint my axle.
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Russix
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Username: Russix

Post Number: 68
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 11:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


Fisher Body Works


Elevator shafts already large enough to move cars to any floor. The location is close to CCS and WSU. A short walk from the Woodward bus line. Large parking lot on the other side of this photo. A deal to turn this into a data warehouse fell through along time ago, anyone know its status or its price?
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Nainrouge
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Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 651
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 11:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What's the street address?
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Sstashmoo
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Username: Sstashmoo

Post Number: 953
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 2:04 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Inventors will work in a public place and risk intellectual property? More than likely not.

Then there is liability issues with this as well. Insurance would be horrendous. Same thing that killed the light plane rental bizz. As long as "Sam" and others abound, many endeavors like this will be impossible. Signed waivers are only so effective.

Then there is a myriad of other issues, tools are expensive and require care depending on their complexity and purpose. Many of the users would be training and breaking more than using. Then there is the theft issues.

Not trying to dampen anyones spirit, just injecting some realities.

Plenty of floorspace and equipment around. Being a non-profit club would probably free up some liabilities, and could have members supply their own perishables to be used on the machines. Welding wire, drill bits, etc. This would definitely have to be staffed with a crib and inventory. You'd really need someone there in a "foreman" capacity, to give users the do's and don'ts. Like no you can't pick up 5 tons with that 2 ton crane. People will do anything and everything left unattended. Would be a lot of fun for people, but it would take some careful implementation to make it feasible at all.

A staffed crib/store. Each member could have their own locker, to store their own tooling. And members could pay monthly storage on projects too large to take home after every work session. Everything is definitely here and plentiful. Run an ad on craigslist to see how many folks would be serious about a monthly membership fee. This could work. If I didn't have a place to work, I'd be interested in something like this. Have a base membership fee and then so much for the amount of floorspace/benchspace used, what size stall etc.
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Smogboy
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Username: Smogboy

Post Number: 6977
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 4:26 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think the location close to CCS & WSU would be great but to solely count on them could be scary. The three months after the Fall & Winter semesters let out could be kind of quiet. Even the month prior to the semesters fully kicking into gear could be a bit slim as well. I'd like to think some of the crowd from the Russell complex could lend it some business as well.

Very intriguing concept though!
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 4747
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 9:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My entire family is very much into this kind of thing. My father, uncle, cousins and I have been building things from dune buggies to log splitters since I was very young. I even remember making an intermittent wiper circuit for an old S-10 that didn't have them. If there are enough people like us around, I think this could work.

Locationwise, I do think Ferndale would be a decent place for it. As long as you marketed CCS and WSU during their active semesters, so they know what is available there for them to use. Offering a student discount might not be a bad idea either. You've got I-75 and 696 servicing the area, making it easy to get to as a destination business.

You've also got Oakland Technical Center's campus in Royal Oak, though there may be necessary age requirements with some of the equipment.
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Drankin21
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Username: Drankin21

Post Number: 156
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 9:18 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Nainrouge,

This is a GREAT idea. I had heard something about it a couple of years ago. I work for a machine manufacturer (welding) and would be interested as a vendor and/or a franchisee.
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1953
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Username: 1953

Post Number: 1530
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 9:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What must be the insurance costs associated with such a business?
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 516
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 11:16 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

SStash,

Many of the machine stations have compulsory training before using (another revenue stream and safety measure).

Also, you as a user/member must sign a waver that TechShop has NO liability if you hurt yourself. By forcing the training, you'd probably mitigate some of your liability as well. Obviously, the insurance can't be that bad if they've got so many people opening franchises.

The idea of Techshop is that it's a community, methinks (hence the membership). So that you know who you're working with, and although you'll have some cretins who don't put away their toys, most people do. In fact, just set it up so that if they do leave their toys out, they get charged extra.

Enough to be a deterrent, as the point I would think is to get people to put away their stuff as opposed to being a service of cleaning up after you. Hence why the daily fee is so high vs. the monthly fee. It's to encourage you to join the community.

As to inventors, I know plenty who openly collaborate. However, most of those inventors are not in this region, period - they moved to places where there are things like TechShop that foster their innovation. Let's just say our region doesn't do a good job at retaining talent and a place like this will help, and why I would gladly go to bat for it.

What I like about it is that it's a franchise. They're going to answer a lot of those concern questions - and have practices and standards since they've been doing it. I'd agree with you to an extent if this were the first one - but those uncertainties are mitigated through the previous experience of the organization. It's why franchises have a higher rate of success than if you step out completely on your own.
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Nainrouge
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Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 659
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 - 11:29 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Looking into this further, I have some concerns. The main shop in California only has 120 members currently and the study says that it needs 450 to be profitable. It sounds to me like they need to mature a bit before they go looking to open other shops around the country.

I also do not think that college students would be enough to keep it going, which would make it not work in the Techtown area. I will keep thinking about it, but for now I think I will wait and see how they do in other cities.
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Sstashmoo
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Username: Sstashmoo

Post Number: 963
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2008 - 1:41 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There is probably some federal money available for something like this.

I just really think it would be tough to keep something like this in the black. I know first hand the expenses involved, gas and electric is a real concern. Lease payments, insurance. I'd venture to say a franchise of this type would really take some investigation. If they aren't offering anything in the way of cooperative insurances, qualified teachers, sound administrative advice/plans and advertising, it's probably of no benefit. Many around here could set something up like this.

I strongly disagree with the claim that there isn't much talent around Detroit. Guess again, there are some extremely talented folks and craftsman at the top of there game in and around Detroit right now. Probably some of the best in the world. These people all have good jobs and have no reason to leave. And Detroit as lacklustre as it all seems, the name still packs a punch on the world stage in regard to workmanship, ingenuity and innovation. "Made in Detroit" still carries some clout.

Back to the techshop idea, this would really be a good thing for someone to implement. I speak with a lot of these nuts and bolts types and many are just itching to build something, but can't due to not having a place or the equipment to do so.
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Johnlodge
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Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 4763
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2008 - 9:13 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Staff is something to consider as well. I imagine you need skilled tradesmen to work and teach the classes, and they'd need to be paid the same or more than they could make just practicing their trade, correct? Would this involve union workers?

Sorry if that is covered on the Web site, it seems to be down this morning.
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Gravitymachine
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Username: Gravitymachine

Post Number: 1933
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2008 - 9:37 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

i would love this too, as a compliment to my own shop anyways. many of the types of tools i would expect to find at such a place are way to cost prohibitive to purchase on my own.
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Nainrouge
Member
Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 662
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2008 - 11:15 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, unfortunately that kind of staff is plentiful at this time because of layoffs. Rent could also probably be negotiated low given the economic situation, but would there be enough customers? That is the big question. I know that I would be willing to pay for this, but would there be 450 others? How far would they be willing to drive for it?

Oh, and for the fudgie folks - of course I am just thinking of this at this time. What did you expect, that I would run out and mortgage my house right away? Any business needs to be carefully researched before you dump your life savings into it. Thanks for the tip about asking a bank. I would have never thought of that - losers.
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Otter
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Username: Otter

Post Number: 4
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Friday, January 25, 2008 - 11:48 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There was (is?) a service garage somewhere near Dequindre where people could bring in their own car parts and install them (or have their people install them).

Livernoiseyard,

Do you know any more about this place, such as where it was, or perhaps still is? Sounds awfully appealing to me - I do all my own car maintenance and my unheated garage means I don't get much done in the winter, even when it needs doing. Then there is the draw of hoists and air tools!

David
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Sstashmoo
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Username: Sstashmoo

Post Number: 970
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Friday, January 25, 2008 - 2:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Quote: "Thanks for the tip about asking a bank. I would have never thought of that - losers."

Here's another tip, consider someone other than yourself to handle public relations. :-)
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Nainrouge
Member
Username: Nainrouge

Post Number: 666
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Friday, January 25, 2008 - 6:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Here's another tip, consider someone other than yourself to handle public relations



That is the beauty of an anonymous bulletin board. Since there is probably only two people in the world who know who I really am, I can speak my mind. I wasn't referring to anyone here anyway.

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