Shocked, shocked, to find that building is going on here: Part 3: The Store Owner

Snooks Garden Centre
Snook's Garden Centre

This is a continuation of my series of posts on the Open Spaces issue.  As you all know, we’ve been hearing a great deal about the “abuse” of Open Space sims.  These posts are looking to see what that really means.

I’ve talked to several people, all using Open Sims in different ways.  One is an estate owner, Fatima Ur.  Then there’s a small business owner, Soliel Snook of Snook’s Garden Centre.  Then there’s Roberto Viking who has his home on an OpenSpace sim he shares with a friend.  And lastly there’s Francesca Cassini, who has been using an OpenSpace sim to support a non-profit, 46664, Nelson Mandela’s AIDS charity, which does amazing work in Africa.

What has their experience of OpenSpace sims been?

The Store Owner: Soliel Snook

Snooks Garden Centre
Snook's Garden Centre

In many comments that you read on the Open Space issue, businesses are held to be the real culprits.  We would all have been all right, these Jeremiahs cry, if only it hadn’t been for the rapacious business people who put heavy malls all over the Open Space sims.

Maybe, but what I saw and experienced, talking to many business owners, was that most of them were using Open Space sims creatively and generously.

Let’s get this in proportion.  The businesses that use Open Space sims tend to be the small to middling businesses.  Most people seriously in business have full sims – they need them for the prims.  And the last thing they are likely to do is to lower their prim count by three quarters just for an Open Space sim.

Snooks Garden Centre
Snook's Garden Centre

Instead it was more likely to be people moving their businesses upwards from a store on the mainland or a privately owned estate (often the more popular option because of the notorious mainland lag) who welcomed the opportunity for expansion that an Open Space sim provided.

Such a business was Snook’s Garden Centre, owned by Soleil Snook.

Soliel had a garden centre in the Victorian Independent state of Caledon in Stormhold.  Actually, Snooks Garden Centre is still there. The Garden Centre was supported by 11 plots of land on the Stormhold sim but, as Soliel had gathered these parcels slowly as they became available, these were not all together on one space – which meant that her prim count was good, but led to problems spacially.  Indeed, as she grew and created more product, even though she had the prims, she did not have the space to display her plants properly, or to design a good system of traffic flow.

Snooks Garden Centre
Snook's Garden Centre

“I was continually re arranging to try to get people to see what was there,” she explains.

Therefore, when the Open Space sims became available, she was very interested, and after much thought and a small windfall of cash she ordered two, in August, to move the garden centre and give herself room to landscape and create an area of grace and beauty where people could just walk around if they wished. The islands, Giggleford and Oran na Mara, form part of the small estate known as Orcadia, owned by Otenth Paderborn.

Then the hard work began.

“We spent 6 weeks making our own files, terraforming, landscaping and displaying our flowers,” says Soliel.  “Every building, rock tree temple, etc is something that my partner Omicron Llwewllyn and myself have made – nothing has been bought in.  We continue to adapt, improve, make seasonal plans and build – our motto is ‘Welcome to the Show that never ends’.”

What had been eleven small plots on a single sim was now two islands of flowers, plants and accessories – and the usage was not heavy, in terms of either prims or scripts.  The displays were open to give people chance to explore and wander around.

Even the names were chosen with care.

Snooks Garden Centre
Snook's Garden Centre

“Oran na Mara is scots gaelic for Song of the sea,” Soliel says.  “And Giggleford is named from my Second Life Cousin Otenth Paderborn, Duke of Murdann and Jarl of Giggleford and West Sniggery.  Otenth is the Estate owner of Orcadia and earlier this year endowed me with the title Marchioness of Giggleford.  I loved the name Giggleford so much that when I joined the Orcadia, that I asked Otenth if I could use the name because it sums up how my partner, Omicron Llewellyn, and I feel about our Second Life experience.  Our little Islands are called Little Giggle and Chuckle.  We named the large conservatory the Perbeatium, which is Latin for ‘We are very Happy’ and the corner stone of the building says ‘Welcome to the Show that Never Ends’.”

Happy as she and he partner were with their creation, they did not undertake this lightly, on a whim.  Far from it.

“I have an extensive marketing background,” Soliel says.  “I have kept records of traffic, sales, trends, and we are constantly trying to improve and meet and set trends. Our business supports other businesses by giving advertising income, and purchasing other items that support what we are doing.”

But now, all this creativirty and business planning is at risk if Soliel and her partner lose their Open Space sims.

Snooks Garden Centre
Snook's Garden Centre

“If I let the current situation go,” says Soliel, “it would make my investment not profitable.  This for me is a hobby that brings great joy to my life and a great creative satisfaction.  Now, it pays for itself; with the rise, it doesn’t.  And I, like many others, will have to consider how I am going to deal with that.  It just makes my heart weep to think of all of the days and hours of work, planning, thinking, data and record keeping that have gone into this project.  All would have been wasted.  I refuse to let a unilateral corporate decision ruin for me what is my only source currently of joy in my life.”

One solution for Soliel and Omicron is to go in with their neighbour and upgrade to full sim.

“We will do this for many reasons,” says Soliel, “but mainly because, no matter what, it appears that the OS regions are in the sights of the Linden Lab.  And with any luck in the end we will have become better than before.  Our businesses are synergistic and should work well together.”

So, there could be a positive outcome of a kind.  But it does not mean that Soliel is left with positive feelings about this experience and the hours and days of time that have gone into creating the project, only to see it destroyed.

“It does not preclude the betrayal and outrage I feel at this change,” she says.  “Linden Lab has promoted Second Life as a User created universe.  They have used our creativity to sell their product, Second Life – and now they are systematically destroying the source of that creativity by over-pricing the product that we have helped make.”

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