Would You Start A Post-Retirement Business?

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Last week, I heard an interesting story on the radio while I was delivering lunches. Thomas Baham purchased a small independent movie theater as a retirement plan. His philosophy is everyone has to work until they die so he might as well work on his passion project. This is a good philosophy. I agree we all should work a bit after retirement. Work gives you a sense of purpose and keeps you going. It has to be the right work, though. You have to enjoy it and it should improve your finance. Otherwise, it isn’t worth doing after retirement.

Let’s see what owning a post-retirement business is like.

For Sale

Wow! I found a tidbit on The previous owner was looking to sell in 2011 and left a comment. Check it out.

Live the retirement dream in beautiful Sweet Home Oregon. Foster Lake and the Cascade Mountains beckon as you aspire for the perfect retirement scenario. Own a fun, part time entertainment business in a small town and live in the apartment upstairs. The single screen Rio Theatre for sale on Main ST. in Sweet Home, Oregon. Enjoy providing the community with first run, family oriented movies Friday through Sunday, then take the rest of the week off! Local community events, special showings, and/or daily movie showings are at your command. This is the perfect opportunity to make a modest income but still enjoy leisure time. $295,000*.

shomerio on April 27, 2011

Actually, this sounds like a nice retirement. I always thought living upstairs and working in a small business on the main floor would be great. The price wasn’t too bad either. However, I saw another comment a bit further down. In 2013, there was a big snowstorm and the theater got water damage in the bathrooms, concession, and lobby area. They repaired it and opened for business again. But this is a red flag. A lot of things can go wrong with a small business.

*I think $295,000 was just the business and equipment. Mr. Baham purchased the building so the final sale price probably was much higher than this.

Rollercoaster ride

In 2014, Mr. Baham purchased the Rio Theater after mulling it over for several years. He renovated the theater and business improved tremendously. In 2018, they purchased the small salon next door and turned that into an additional screening. Wow, that’s gutsy. Business must have been booming for him to expand like that. He had to renovate both places and upgrade the equipment. Things were going great until the Covid pandemic hit.

The theater had to shut down, but various payments continued. They took out loans to purchase and renovate the business. They had to keep making payments or they’d lose the business. Mr. Baham sold his house to keep the place going. They operated creatively and rented out the theater to small groups and tried to generate income in any way they could. That sounds super stressful.

Fortunately, they kept the door open somehow. The pandemic relief fund helped a bit. They also got a grant from the state and raised some money through a fundraising platform. They made it through the pandemic and theater is riding the wave of recovery.

Sweet Home is growing. Remote workers and retirees moved to affordable small towns for a better quality of life. The theater benefited from the growing customer base and the Rio Theater is doing better than ever.

Business is going so well that Mr. Baham just purchased another small independent theater – the Palace in Silverton. Holy moly! He is brave. Business is good now, but who knows what the future will bring. This retirement plan is too stressful for me.

The previous owner of the Silverton Palace posted a closing announcement on They could barely make it work as a business. The final nail in the coffin was a dispute with the building owner and they got evicted. I hope Mr. Baham can turn it around and make this theater a success too. I assume he purchased the building to avoid any future issues with the previous building owner.

Small business is tough

Running an independent theater is a tough business. These days, viewers can stream new movies at home. Most of us don’t want to go to a crowded theater anymore. It’s a lot more comfortable and affordable to watch a movie at home. Also, there are so many things to do. Going to the movie isn’t a big deal like the old days. But it might be different in a small town. A good theater can anchor the main strip and bring people together. According to Mr. Boham, many shows sold out at the Rio Theater.  

I think owning and operating a small business is a great idea. However, I would never invest more than 10% of our net worth in a business. There are just too many things that can go wrong with any business. It’d have to have a low overhead and not eat into the rest of our retirement fund. Blogging is a great small business if you can make it work. Although, it’s probably better to start a YouTube or TikTok channel these days.

Actually, I have a personal story. In 1976, my grandfather invested in a movie theater. He had a successful fabric business, but his friends convinced him to invest in a new cinema. The business failed spectacularly and he lost everything. Lenders hounded him for the rest of his days. It was sad.

Here is Mr. Boham’s story on OPB. Check it out if you want to hear more. I found other bits and pieces on the internet. At the time of airing, he is in his mid-50s. He isn’t that old yet.

Would you stake your retirement fund in a small business? A bed & breakfast or a small coffee shop might work for me.

If you want to try blogging, here is my guide – how to start blogging

Image credit: Mark Hessling

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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