A view of the industry through the
eyes of a chain buyer.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
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
Retail display fixtures, hooks & shelving for a 2,000 sq ft
Retail sales supplies and office supplies
Register area counters/cash wrap
Studio classroom and lounge area furniture
Two Dell computers
RetailPro point-of-sale inventory management control &
reporting system (a $10,000 value)
All remaining inventory at time of transfer
Stereo system & speakers
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