I just launched my new project on Kickstarter. If you share my feelings about developing local food systems, using crowdfunding to shape communities, or, even better, you live in West Town, Chicago and you want a grocery store at 2036 W Division St. then I hope you will back this project.
Plenty is a neighborhood tailored, locally focused grocery and deli. Catering to health conscious residents and those with underrepresented diets; and supporting regional farmers, urban food projects and small batch producers.
Seeing a need in my Chicago neighborhood for a convenient source of fresh and healthy food, being generally dissatisfied about the current state of our food system, and wanting to focus my efforts on tangible change that would support not just my neighborhood but the greater community by sourcing products from regional farmers and local producers, I set out to open PLENTY, a community-centered grocery store focusing on local, organic foods and basic goods.
I first set out to fund PLENTY in a traditional way seeking funding from banks and investors, and bringing on a partner to help. During the process we realized that even though the economy is recovering and interest rates are low, banks are still very hesitant to lend to anyone let alone startups with young, self-employed owners, neither of whom own homes or even cars. This is a typical story for startups, but another issue we ran into was that investors were not interested do to the limited return a small grocery can generate. We were surprised by the lack of interest in a sustainable business that did good but that didn't have an infinite return possibility. Really, we were just asking the wrong people.
Eventually we came back around to why we were doing this in the first place, and why it made so much sense to ask our neighbors, friends, and local food producers, the very people who would be using and benefitting from the business, to help us raise the funds we couldn't on our own. With crowdfunding being such a viable option where backers are able to get the immediate return of rewards but also the return of having a store that they will be able to use on a regularl basis, It seems now that this is the logical first step for many new endevours, and the perfect way for people to work together to shape their communites.
We just launched our project on Kickster. Now we need to spread the word and need your help. If you share our feelings about developing local food systems, using crowdfunding to shape communities, or, even better, you live in West Town, Chicago and you want a grocery store at 2036 W Division St., then I hope you will support PLENTY on Kickstarter.