Reacting to a 3-week-old variance waiver rejection by the Newburyport City Council to erect a movable A-frame sign for its business located off the beaten trail, Licorice & Sloe Co. Teahouse of 21 Middle Street is closing shop.
Bil Silliker gave me permission to reproduce his e-mailed letter here:
I write this email with a heavy heart and heavy eyelids as it’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m incapable of anything resembling restful sleep. I feel as though I’m on the verge of putting down a beloved family pet whose lack of anything resembling quality of life begs me to do the right thing.
Meg and I have watched our cost of running a small business rise through these last two years and our bottom line has not been able to keep up. We hoped this tough economy would take a turn in a better direction and oddly enough we saw some of our best end of month numbers in 2008 and this gave us hope and the strength to hang tough for all that we’ve invested.
Unfortunately a recent decision by the city council of Newburyport to deny us the use of a sign that has been vital to our business has had an even greater impact on our bottom line than we had anticipated. We’ve watched August’s numbers fail to meet those of recent months and more specifically one of our greatest weekends of the summer has typically been Labor Day weekend and this year it has been abysmal.
My recent departure from the business as an attempt to support our family through what we expected to be a tough time has forced our labor costs up to a point where we can’t possibly sustain the needs of the business.
September 1, 2008 will be our last day of traditional business. We have a lot of tea inventory to unload and we’ll probably attempt to sell that off through the month of September. We will still prepare some of our highly coveted specialty tea based beverages as well as limited tea service in the shop through the weekends of September, but we expect to be closed for most if not all of the weekdays. We anticipate September 28th to be our final day of business, but could close sooner than that if our supplies run out more quickly than we expect.
We’d like to thank you all for adding Licorice & Sloe Company into your lives, you’ve given us many unforgettable experiences.