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Onboarding Indiana, Chapter 1 Seeking Flex Space

We recently moved our residence and separate brick and mortar business into a single structure from Chicago (pop 3.6 M) to Lowell IN (pop 9700).


There were 5 stoplight cameras on Western Ave between our Walton St. apartment and our avian vet, Animal House of Chicago.


There are 5 stoplights in the whole town of Lowell Indiana.


The blog post “Onboarding Indiana” has the first draft of almost 5,000 words.


It’s a TLDR post (Too Long Didn’t Read)


We’re breaking our story down into manageable morsels


Transferring corporations, taxing bodies, insurance policies, banks, driver licenses……ad nauseam, is a tale that spans 6 months.


Starting early November 2018 and climaxing 5/1/19 the date we started collecting 7% sales tax in Indiana.


Ironically, without Illinois getting our sales tax all our Illinois (online) customers now get a 10.25 % discount.


Our sales tax obligation dropped 90% based on 7% Indiana online customers sales.


My first Indiana municipal encounter was with the Lowell Historical Society.


BTW – no business license needed, just a certificate of occupancy and a visit from Matt at Lowell FD for a safety inspection


We requested to put up 2 signs for our retail and WordPress businesses on the home we’re at which was built in 1928.


I submitted images and specs, then met with the group of 6.


The meeting started by “all rise for the pledge..”


7 of us stood, spun 180 degrees facing a large American flag and with hands over hearts we recited the “Pledge of Allegiance”  something I’ve not done in over 50 years.


Life is very different in small-town America. 


BTW – the house is owned by the Sheets funeral parlor next door.


3 generations, 150 years of undertaking.


3 hearses in my garage, coffin parts, cremation boxes, and body bags piled on gurneys in the basement we share – that’s a post all its own.


As David Byrne from the Talking Heads asks “how did I get here?” In the song “once-in-a-lifetime”.



I don’t know what generated, the spark.


We’ve been camping and motorcycling for more than 20 years in Newton County Indiana.


We know it intimately.


We have a permanently parked trailer with hot and cold running water, air conditioning, high-speed Internet and no worries about waste.


Yet for almost 2 decades we would schlep crates, cartons, and birds for two 2-1/2 hour one-way trips.


Two events occurred.


I’m not going to be political here but Lori Lightfoot and JB Pritzker got elected.


Those were my signs.


Things will not get any better here in Chicago, Il, what’s the point of staying?


Did you know that when you check out of Costco with liquor in Chicago, you pay a Cook County liquor tax which is based upon the price of liquor plus Illinois sales tax?


You are paying taxes on taxes you just paid.


Chicago’s infrastructure is crumbling.


How do I know this statistically?


Almost $3000 in front end repairs to our 05 Escape primarily with my friends at Augusta/Paulina car repair.


Aurelio, the proprietor, lives in Schererville Indiana, he gets it. 


Don’t let car ads fool you, friends.


It’s way cheaper to maintain an older car than to buy a new one taking on tens of thousand dollars in debt.


If you haven’t figured out by now, I do digress – regularly.


It may or may not have anything to do with whiskey, but I try to keep it fun.


I request that my readers always “buckle up.”


On a bleak cold nondescript weekday in November 2018, I got into our Ford Escape (the Windy City Parrot Mobile) and headed south with my first stop, Hammond, Indiana.


The previous night I mapped out seven realtors between Hammond and Lowell.


I wanted to meet with them personally, provide my business card, list my criteria and hope for the best.


I was in a Hammond realtors office at 9 AM and finished at a Lowell realtors office about 4 PM with an extensive conversation about the area and a useful real estate phone apps.


We didn’t want to buy anything as our model is to rent.


As an SMB rental provides predictable expenses.


If the water heater goes or a roof blows off, it is the responsibility of the landlord to repair these things so I don’t have to seek out thousands of dollars to pay for said repairs.


Buying property is also difficult when you have no property.


By the way of 7 contacts, one returned with property for more than we were paying in Chicago.


Our assets are literally the inventory of Windy City Parrot.


Banks do not find thousands of pounds of bird food and lots of bird toys as reliable collateral on a piece of property.


Inevitably the (close to) perfect retail flex (live/work) was found on the marquee in front of 618 E Commercial Ave Route 2 of Lowell Indiana.


After some back and forth phone calls with Ken Sheets, the owner of the property I was finally able to take a look.


I forget if it was in December 2018 or January 2019 because of the miserable, as in polar vortex, where everyone got dinged by mother nature.


Once in, I instantly knew that the space would work.


I set up an appointment for Catherine to visit.


For the price, location and physical layout, we couldn’t find anything better.


Sometime in mid-February, we had a meeting with Ken and explained that we were probably going to move forward but needed time to come up with first and last months rent along with a security deposit.


Moving forward we were paying on one lease instead if 2 and 5 fewer utility bills as our Western ave store had a rear building


This is where things get Indiana weird in a good way.


He hands me the keys and says “just start paying the rent and you can live here, when you stop paying rent, you’ll need to leave.”


I’ll be out of town for a couple of weeks, so here’s the key.


I brought him a cashier’s check for March and asked if we could have February for free in that we had already started moving in boxes.


And the rest, as they say, is history.


Next up – where do we start to make the move?


Is it weird we moved from a 2618 address to a 618 address?


written by Mitch Rezman
approved by Catherine Tobsing


Read: Onboarding Indiana Ch 2 – The Devils In The Details 

Related reading:  Windy City Parrot Now Shipping From Lowell, IN





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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kathy

    Wondered what had happened. Glad to hear that everything seemed to work out. Miss Birdy Brunch Sundays. Keep up the info. Tks, KJ

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