A Waitsfield business owner is taking a novel approach to selling her bakery. If her plan works, the new owner would pay just $75 to own the business.
But there’s a bit more to the story than that.
For the past two years, the Mix Cupcakerie and Kitchen has been catering to residents and visitors in the Mad River Valley from a storefront in a small shopping plaza.
“All winter long I sell a ton of soups, and little grab-and-go food. Weekends, holidays, birthdays, we sell cakes and cupcakes and things like that. And I sell pies all year long,” says owner Carole Keleher.
Now Keleher wants to practically give her business to a new owner in a contest. To win, here’s all you need to do: Write an essay about why you want the business and submit it along with an idea for a cupcake recipe and a $75 entry fee. (Aficionados of creative crowdsourcing campaigns may recall a similar essay contest developed by an inn in Maine.)
If your submission is judged best, you take over an established storefront and own all the equipment inside.
Keleher’s reasons for selling her business in this way are both practical and egalitarian. On the practical side, she has to leave town soon because her partner got a job out of state. She knows it can take a long time to sell a business in the typical way.
She also likes the idea of making it possible for someone without access to a lot of capital to take over the business.
“I wanted to spread out the pool of perspective owners. It’s not necessarily about being a buyer. It's more about having the love and the ability to do this job,”she says.
In addition to getting all the equipment in bakery, Keheher is offering 80 hours free training to impart all that she’s learned about running the business.
But there’s another side to her plan, and the contest can’t happen without it.
While the new owner would pay just $75 to take over the business, Keleher needs to make $22,000 to walk away from it – she says the money would basically cover the cost of the equipment.
Crowdfunding has become a popular financing tool, but it’s far from a sure thing. According to the popular site Kickstarter, only 38 percent of the projects launched there are successful.
And while most crowdfunding is about helping someone get into a business or a project, this one is about helping Keleher getting out of a business.
So the question is, will a typical crowdfund donor be inclined to put money into something like that? Keleher hopes so.
“It’s about creating opportunities for people and keeping our local economy strong. Its set up for people to enter and it’s also set up for people to donate,” she says.
If she can’t raise the $22,000 in donations and entry fees, Keleher says the business will close and people will get their money back. So far, Keleher has received just a handful of entries and donations.
She still has a long way to go to reach her goal — and not much time to get there before she has to move away.