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306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


A view of the industry through the eyes of a chain buyer.

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A Novel Way To Change Ownership

An essay contest for consumers.

by Staff Report (November 17, 2008)

(Note: In the previous "Benny Da Buyer installment, CLN reported on the changes for Spark Craft Studios, the most unique retail concept our industry has seen in years. To read the article, click on "Spark Crafts Needs a Spark" in the right-hand column. Now co-founders Jan Stephenson Kelly and Amy Appleyard have found a unique way of changing ownership. Here is the email sent to customers.)

Dear Friends,

After four wonderful years as the owners of Spark Craft Studios, we have made the difficult decision to sell our business.

Over the years, many of you have expressed an interest in owning a store like Spark Craft Studios. We hope that among you our fabulous customers we can identify someone with the right combination of passion, creativity, skills, and resources to take ownership of this unique business.

In early 2005, we founded Spark Craft Studios with the vision of creating a community-oriented studio and store where you could purchase beautiful craft supplies and then learn how to use them in a collaborative setting. From the very beginning, people just seemed to "get" the concept and that has been our greatest joy. The enthusiasm you all have shared with us has been humbling and extremely gratifying. Thank you.

Throughout this journey, we have been delighted to win small business awards, to generate publicity in local and national publications, to receive the attention of the crafts industry, and to publish two books. But our greatest successes have been connected to our mission we are most proud of the fact that through Spark Craft Studios, we have taught hundreds of people how to integrate crafts into their lives and we have helped many of our employees and customers launch their own rewarding entrepreneurial endeavors. It has been incredibly satisfying to see people who never thought they could be "creative" or "crafty" learn how to make jewelry or to sew, to develop their own sense of style, and even to start selling their work at craft fairs or on Etsy.

We do not want to see the value created by this enterprise just disappear! Instead, we've decided to hold an essay contest to identify the best person or persons to take the reins of our unique business and become the new owners of Spark Craft Studios.

The winner will receive the contents of the store at the time of the transfer, including store fixtures and furnishings, exterior signage, the point-of-sale system, a modest inventory, and the website. Please note: We believe the store requires an infusion of capital for additional inventory to be successful.

The entry fee is $300, including a non-refundable $30 processing fee. If we receive at least 500 contest entrants, we will proceed with choosing a winner and the entire $300 entrance fee will become non-refundable. If we do not receive 500 entries, or if we decide not to proceed with the contest for any reason, we will refund everyone who has entered the contest $270 each.

If you are interested in purchasing the store outright, please contact Jan directly at jan@sparkcrafts.com.

To enter the contest, please mail us the following postmarked no later than November 26, 2008 (send to Contest, Spark Craft Studios, 1963 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140):

1) A 250-word-limit essay, answering the following questions: Why do you want to own Spark Craft Studios? Why are you the best person/s to win this contest?

2) Two checks - one for $270 and one for $30.

3) A self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Winner will be notified by December 3, 2008.

Please feel free to spread the word about our contest and this business opportunity to your networks.

All the best,

Jan Stephenson Kelly and Amy Appleyard

A Second Note to Customers.

A few days later, Jan and Amy sent a second email:

Hi Everyone,

Wow! Thank you all for your kind thoughts and wishes in response to our email about our contest to give away Spark Craft Studios.

We are thrilled to have so much interest in the contest and wish everyone good luck with their essay writing. Remember, the deadline is November 26th.

Since so many of you have asked, we thought it would be helpful to tell you a little more about what you can expect to receive if you win the contest:

Use of the Spark Craft Studios (TM) brand name

All exterior & interior Spark Craft Studios signage

Spark Craft Studios website (domain name and current design/content)

Retail display fixtures, hooks & shelving for a 2,000 sq ft store

Retail sales supplies and office supplies

Register area counters/cash wrap

Studio classroom and lounge area furniture

Two Dell computers

Office fax/printer/copier

RetailPro point-of-sale inventory management control & reporting system (a $10,000 value)

All remaining inventory at time of transfer

Stereo system & speakers

Two phones

Microwave, mini-fridge & coffee maker

Consultation with current owners

History of store's best-selling products

Detailed list of craft vendors

Some fine print:

Winner chosen will be given access to pertinent business information. Winner is under no obligation to accept the prize but will be required to make a decision within 24 hours. Retail space is leased (competitively-priced for Cambridge) and assignment of lease is subject to Landlord approval, which according to the lease shall not be unreasonably withheld.

The essay contest is open to all. We will consider all entries, including those from individuals/couples/groups who may not wish to continue on as Spark Craft Studios. For example, someone may wish to use the contents of their winnings to change the business name, or to start another type of retail venture.

Again, good luck!

All the best,

Jan Stephenson Kelly and Amy Appleyard



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