London cabs for sale in Charleston
In what must be one of the most charming “for sale” ads written by a modern taxi company, Charleston Black Cab Co. went looking for a new owner Monday.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, we, the owners of the Charleston Black Cab Company, will be repatriating to England forthwith,” owners Carl and Verity Rowe said in the ad, in The Post and Courier. “We are seeking someone with the motivation to love, nurture and develop our offspring, as we have ever since the inception.”
Founded in 2005, the Charleston company has put a fleet of iconic London taxis on area streets, catering to customers willing to pay a little more to travel in style. The company gets a lot of business from weddings, and whoever buys the company name and assets, including 10 cabs, will get future reservations that include more than 90 wedding bookings.
The ad likely caused concern among some brides-to-be.
“I’ve had multiple calls today related to weddings,” said Verity Rowe. “Their reservations are safe, and they shouldn’t be concerned at all.”
She said she has no doubt a new owner will step in, run the company, and honor the reservations. She said the reasons for the rush sale are personal.
“We wanted (the business) to stay in Charleston, to retain the efforts we have made over the years, to retain the wedding reservations, and to help our staff keep their jobs,” Rowe said.
Bids will be accepted no later than noon Saturday for the 10 London taxis, along with the company name, website, phone number and future reservations. The company’s remaining vehicles may be sold separately. Antonio Adili, who founded Charleston Style Limo in 2008, said his company has expressed interest in bidding.
“It’s always sad to see a friend in the industry close its doors, but family comes first,” he said. “CBCC set a new standard for limos and taxis in Charleston.”
Any bidder hoping to operate the company on Aug. 18 would need proper licensing, and that could constrain the pool of potential bidders. Someone who already has a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” in Charleston could request approval to have the Charleston Black Cab Co. certificate transferred, according to Charleston’s municipal code.
A.J. Franklin opened Charleston Green Taxi in 2008, another niche taxi company that’s located not far from CBCC. Franklin’s company uses a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids, while Charleston Black Cab uses the LTI TXII taxi, powered by a 4-cylinder Ford diesel engine and a common sight in London.
“I always looked at Black Cab as a good company,” Franklin said. “If we couldn’t do a job, I would usually refer the business to them.” He said he won’t be a bidder for CBCC’s assets. Franklin said despite Charleston’s popularity with tourists, the taxi business is a tough one.
Verity Rowe estimates the 10 taxis offered for sale are worth about $25,000 each — a turn-key company for as little as $150,000 — so she’s confident there will be a buyer. She said CBCC will continue normal operations until Aug. 18, when a new owner should take over.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.