What Happened Next: Food For All bailout

NewsWorks went back to check in on several of the stories it covered in 2012. These “What Happened Next” updates will run throughout December. 

Customers bail out Philadelphia business overwhelmed by Groupon deal, Jan. 25 

The storyBy the end of summer of 2011, Amy Kunkle was in a lot of financial trouble. As a result of signing up for an ill-advised Groupon offer, her Food For All Market in Mt. Airy lost nearly $10,000. She had been breaking even beforehand.

The three-month deal allowed an unlimited number of customers to get $30 worth of merchandise at the vegan, gluten-free specialty store for just $15. Groupon took an additional $8 per sale.

That meant that during the deal, Kunkle only took in $7 for every $30 going out.

About 450 people took advantage.

Staring down a mountain of debt, she saw no option but to close. But then something very unusual happened.More than two dozen residents, many customers, decided to hand Kunkle a second chance.

Collectively, they provided Kunkle with a $50,000-plus loan to keep the business afloat and move forward.The Germantown Avenue business re-opened Feb. 10.

What Happened Next?

Kunkle isn’t completely out of the woods yet, but told NewsWorks that she’s well on her way.

“[Business has] been really good,” said Kunkle in late November. “We’re 85 percent there.”

Following the community bailout, Kunkle re-configured her business plan a bit. Most notably, the store now carries only about a quarter of the grocery items it once offered and more. More of the shop’s inventory is now made in-house, including a new line of breads.

The switch has meant that the business has “more of a café atmosphere” now than a grocery store.

Kunkle has also opened up the space for events and is looking to offer cappuccino down the line.

Kunkle is so optimistic about the business now, that she’s considering another location – likely somewhere outside of Philadelphia – once the one in Mt. Airy has fully recovered from the Groupon disaster.

“We haven’t even approached investors. We really have to have this footprint under control before we would venture to do that,” said Kunkle.

Kunkle was given two years from when the loans were processed to start paying people back.

No matter what happens, Kunkle noted that she has no intention of ever agreeing to an offer from Groupon or any similar company again.

“Obviously, there’s no way we would do a deal like that,” she said.

If you have any stories from 2012 that you’d like NewsWorks to follow up on, let us know at nwproducers@whyy.org

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