[UPDATED 8/2/2022] "When will Gundam Planet open?" An investigation:
The title of this post is a question we have been fielding no less than 10 times a day for the past year. We have said the answer diplomatically and professionally about 7000 times over various forms of communication and our brains are going to melt out of our ears if we have to keep doing it. Here is a post that details EVERYTHING keeping us from opening our "Showroom," which is the technical term for our new location's walk-in element:
The Pandemic: Obviously the world shut down entirely from March 2020 through the end of the year. Since we moved into our new building in March basically the second the world stopped turning, the building department in our town was completely shut down for 4 months post-move. That was not great.
July 2020: The building department opens! It is by appointment only. However, when you call no one picks up. If you go to the building department you can see people inside (and even call while standing there), but no one answers. You cannot even knock on the door because there's a huge sign that says "DO NOT KNOCK." There is a big sign that says "MEETINGS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY" with everyone's phone numbers. No one ever answers. This goes on until November.
November 2020: Finally an answer! Perfect, we have now filed our application for building and installation of a prefab mezzanine to function as a second floor to the showroom. Awesome!
December 2020: Approved! Too bad we can't start construction because it is literally the busiest holiday season in our company's history so the "showroom" side of the warehouse was being used for storage of 12-20 pallets at any time.
March 2021: Mezzanine is complete. Excellent! Now we can start final interior renovation in preparation for use of a showroom, but not before we file a permit for the removal of an overhead door for installation of a double glass door more suitable for humans.
May 2021: We receive mail notifying us that in February 2020 (mind you, before we even owned the building), we performed unauthorized construction without a permit and cannot proceed with any plans until we "provide documentation proving the work has been brought back into compliance" and pay over $100,000 in past-due fines.
July 2021:We have rectified every situation and clarified to the town that 1. we never were notified of this issue prior to this date and 2. we could not possibly have performed this work because we were not the building owners at the time of the inspection. Now we are simply waiting for them to approve our architectural diagram documents to begin the final construction on the showroom.
August 2021: After being told to provide the architectural documents in full to the town, we do so and are only then told that we need to have signed with a contractor prior to providing the documents and that a permit cannot be given without the contractor information.
September 2021: We sign with the contractor who has experience working with this specific town and gets the necessary permit applications processed with the building department. However, he is told that we never received clearance for the external awning above our bay doors, despite them being part of the original approved design from the zoning department. We reconcile this issue within a day.
October 2021: We are told that because of our building's zoning designation (which as a side note, has never been agreed upon by any two town employees because the maps were drawn so long ago and never digitized and apparently our building straddles a line), we are not able to have "both a sign [with our name on it] and an awning," so we told them we do not need a sign.
November 2021: We are sitting on our hands unable to complete any construction because of the town being hung up on a sign that we have specifically said we do not need.
February 2022: We're cookin' now! The front facade construction has begun to convert the overhead door into a walk-in door for customers to use. The frame was constructed very quickly, and now we're just waiting on materials for the facade and door. Additionally, we cannot finish the "lobby" area floor, because the door would need to be open for 10 hours a day, and it is the freezing New Jersey winter.
April 2022: The materials, along with everything else in the world, are taking so impossibly long that we begin arranging the warehouse portion of our facility for walk-in browsing, similar to how it was in our old location. We planned to open in the first week of May, Tuesday-Friday, 2-6PM, every week to hold people over until construction is able to finish.
May 2022: As luck would have it, literally the week we planned to open the warehouse to customers, the entirety of the LA ports opened the floodgates and we received over 60 pallets of shipments over the following 15 business days. Because of the immense workload on our staff and the space constraints of our facility, we have had to delay opening again until we are able to guarantee sufficient time and attention can be given to customers.
[NEW]July 2022: In what I would consider to be a minor miracle, the construction on the exterior facade began and ended in a single week. We now have a very obvious entrance for customers with only one problem: the door is still an overhead door that is either "all the way open" or "all the way closed," not ideal for the summer heat. Now we just need the door that will go in front of the overhead gate that can be opened and closed, like a door.
[NEW]August 2022:For the past month we've been slowly assembling the showroom into the final form, but the entrance has been in its original state the entire time because of the heavy equipment that would need to pass over it every once in a while. Finally, the need for equipment has passed and the register area is complete. The last thing we are waiting on now is the door, which we've been told should be able to be installed by the middle of August.
This is a very long post of mostly complaining, but we want to continue to be so transparent with you about everything that's happening.
TL;DR: We will open as soon as physically possible, whether it's in a shiny new showroom or a shiny new warehouse. We also will post about it everywhere so you will not miss it. We promise that if you are opening twitter and navigating to our profile to ask us if we're open, you will not be able to miss us talking about being open. If you are able to get to the contact page and send an email about us being open, we will make sure you'll see that we're open before you're even able to get to the form.
We all appreciate your enthusiasm for our return to action so much. It genuinely means a lot how interested everyone is to see our new space, and we can't wait to show you either! I do personally ask that you read this post and understand the headache that our entire staff has been dealing with before making our customer service reps explain on the phone that we don't know when we'll be open yet and exactly why for likely the 7th time in a 5-hour span.
We love you all. The last 24 months have just made us very tired. We will keep you all posted!