A group of students from Ladysmith Secondary are moving ahead with a business proposal that could bring a movie theatre back to Ladysmith.
The decision was made after two youth initiatives, Project Reel Life and Carpe Diem, a proposal for a youth clothing/surf/skate/bike store, were presented at the high school Thursday night.
Project Reel Life proposes a youth run community movie theatre, housed in the old electronics room at Ladysmith Secondary and renovated by students in the school’s carpentry program.
While working on their business ideas, all of the students were mentored by members of the local business community. The six students involved with Project Reel Life were encouraged to look at all aspects of running a movie theatre, including researching the costs involved with renovating the ideal location for a theatre, movie rights, concession supplies and a movie projector, which can cost in excess of $100,000, said project member Brendan Wilkinson.
“You pretty much break even on movie distribution, so that’s why when you go to the movies the popcorn is so ridiculously expensive,” he said.
However, using the old electronics room at LSS would not only make use of school district facilities during declining enrollment, but keep operational costs low, said LSS principal Dave Street.
“Running as a youth run/school run project, the overhead would be extremely low, and if you couple that with concession revenues, and the chances of something like this breaking even and even doing better is a given,” he said.
The youths will now move on to the second stage of the Community Action Initiative, a grant application that could net them up to $200,000 for their proposal.
Audience members also heard about project Carpe Diem, a proposal to run a youth clothing and more store on High Street.
According to project leaders Kristy DeClark and Chad Schoolcraft, the location could accommodate about five or six retailers who would lease a storefront space for their products, while the youth would help run the shop and order in the products.
“Because Ladysmith is so small so you only need a small quantity of each brand of clothing or bike,” Declark said. “If there’s a dance coming up and you don’t have time to go to Nanaimo and you want clothing, there’s nowhere really to go.”
The pair would like to keep a youth clothing and sport store theme in mind, selling bikes, skateboards and providing bike repair services for the entire community.
“The one good thing about it is, the building that we’ve picked has a top floor, and what we are thinking is the bottom floor would be used for shopping and then when we have enough money, make the top floor into a cafe or smoothie shop,” Schoolcraft said.
“Not only would we be introducing youth to being more active, and spending more time learning more sports, we’re also allowing them to have a place where they can have their time and hang out.”
Carpe Diem has already received a proposition from Frontrunner, and talks are in the works.
The meeting was well attended by members of the community who were impressed by the students’ efforts.
“The town can be very proud of our youth,” said Sid Roemer of the Ladysmith Lions club. “I’ve seen so many businesses come up with all the glorious things that are going to be done and suddenly they’re gone. With the youth, I think we’ve got a good chance to set up something that’s going to prosper and make this town even better.”
Regardless of the outcome of the grant, the students will look at other opportunities with the community to get their projects off the ground, says project coordinator Sam Corrington, of the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association, who funded the youth initiative through a $10,000 convening grant.
Keep tuned to the Ladysmith Chronicle as the projects develop.