We've been EXTREMELY busy for the last several months finishing our business plan, revising the construction plans and getting bids on work to be done. While we could certainly be content to open the doors as the building is, the fact is that we want the place to be as inviting as possible and need to invest some money in the building and site before the Town and the County will allow us to open. So, we've been looking under every rock and in every cushion of the house for financing!
The unfortunate thing is that the banks are unwilling to lend to a start-up, even with tenants lining up; the Town has no more money left in the Economic Development Fund, so we're told; and investors still believe that the Stock Market and bank CDs are less risky than a Farmers Market with tenants lining up already! The Town requirements are for a "hard surface" parking lot, curb, gutter and sidewalks. The County requirements are for other upgrades to the building to make it "safe".
(An aside here: Did you know that Walt Disney went bankrupt 3 times, and that his own brother wouldn't give him a dime to start Disneyland?! I bet if Roy Disney, Walt's brother, were alive today, he'd still be kicking himself.)
Like good ole' Walt, we believe that where there's vision, anything can happen! Dare to dream; reach for the stars; and have a plan! Which we do.
This brings us to an interesting funding resource we have found. It's called Crowd Funding!
"What is Crowd Funding?" you ask. The company we are using, www.KickStarter.com, has a tagline of "A New and Fun way to Fund & Follow Creativity." Have you ever seen those flash mob videos where a bunch of people in one place, like a mall, suddenly start dancing or acting or something? It's sort of like that but done in financing, with rewards. It's really not a new concept. Big name brand Companies "sell" collector items all the time in order to boost funds for special projects (or just to boost funds) - think the Hess Toy Trucks, or collectible edition Coca-Cola bottles.
It's also about community coming together as ONE to create something beautiful and sublime! (Watch video to the end to see it all come together; even the crowd gets involved.)
Since the start, the Mount Jackson Farmers Market has been first and foremost about creating a place that the community can enjoy, through the restoration and respect of the historic building, and by having affordable spaces for local vendors who would otherwise not be able to rent a whole storefront on Main Street.
However, if the funding goal is met (OR EVEN SURPASSED), the funds are given to us for the project and we then start sending out the rewards. What's great is that we can begin construction as soon as we see our funding goal met, even if there is time left.
- Is this legitimate? Absolutely! The company we are looking into has been featured on NPR, CNN and in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal! (Tara actually found the site through Pearl Jam's promotion of a friend's project!) KickStarter has an incredible success record, with many projects surpassing their funding goals. All funds are handled through Amazon, and no one is charged a cent until the project reaches its goal.
- What makes this work? Word of mouth and great rewards. This is where you come in. Once we launch the project we will need as many of you as possible to promote it as often as you can on Facebook, through links from your own webpages, word of mouth and whatever means you think are appropriate (though we do not promote, and request you refrain from writing on bathroom walls!). Our rewards are going to be everything from MJFM coffee mugs and T-shirts, to beautiful Picnic baskets filled with gourmet goodies from the market, to possibly a private catered dinner at the market! All will get invitations to a special Grand Opening, of course! We even have plans to offer a LIMITED EDITION DESIGNER piece of locally made Pottery. We might even have a few other unique incentives up our sleeves. We're still working these out.
- Other than rewards, why would someone do this?! It's about investing in COMMUNITY. It's also about RELATIONSHIPS and GOOD CAUSES. This is what makes crowd funding work in place of traditional financing, which seems to be dead these days.
- Why is this a good fit for the Farmers' Market? The Mount Jackson Farmers Market is first and foremost about COMMUNITY. It's about Historic Preservation, Urban AND Rural Revitalization, Supporting the local economy, and promoting Sustainable Businesses and Community. Everyone wins!
- What will your funding goal be? We need to get the parking lot, sidewalk, curbs and gutters installed immediately, and have contractors ready and willing. Nobody knows the pressure of this requirement more than we do. Ideally, we want to get it done before the outdoor market opens in April. Therefore, we will be setting our funding goal for that amount. We hope to install an innovative and unique "GREEN" parking lot, and sidewalks to match the Town's. We also need to cover permitting costs. However, we'd really like to surpass our goal and be able to move swiftly on upgrades to the building so that we can offer spaces to the interested tenants as soon as possible. (We have potential tenants contacting us almost daily!)
- Can I still pledge after the goal has been met, and will I still get rewards? Absolutely YES! We will be setting what we think is a reasonable goal, based on other projects that have been funded, but we'd really like to raise all the funds needed to do the ENTIRE project. We will still be giving the rewards as long as the funding is coming in.
- What can you do to get ready for the project launch?
- For starters, sign up for an Amazon Account. If you already have one, you're good to go.
- Next Sign up on www.Kickstarter.com. There are NO FEES to sign up or to pledge! Once our project launches and you make a pledge, your credit card will NOT be charged until, and only if, we reach our goal. We need to reach the goal to be able to release the rewards.
Browse around the site, and look at the amazing projects being funded, and the cool rewards people are giving away. Just get familiar with the site.
- Promote our Facebook Page, or the blog. We will be posting updates of the project both places.
- Then get ready for our Project Launch coming soon!
Lastly, we will be promoting our project through a number of other sources. We plan to partner with several magazines and organizations that have large audiences to whom they can promote our project. But we need your help! And you will be handsomely rewarded and recognized. So stay tuned! We will post our project in the next few weeks.