Friday, April 28, 2006
I've been keeping an eye on prices, inflation, and government regulations.
Four years ago, when we started thinking seriously about opening the Cracked Cauldron, things looked good. Prices were manageable, profits would be better than decent, suppliers were plentiful, the test marketing did marvelously, the market studies were all showing profitable trends, and we had some seriously good locations scoped out.
Opening two years ago would have seen us at the profit point, even with today's high prices. We might be tightening our belts in placs, and our menu might have adapted to the rising costs of transportation, but we would have reached the "making a profit" point. Just.
It's amazing what a difference even a year has made.
The government (local) has passed a few regulations that have increased the cost of opening considerably.
We've lost 4 of the 5 locations we mapped out, and have only been able to locate one replacement. Those 4 sites have been either re-zoned to prevent us from using them or they've been converted to some other function. Still, two sites are enough to keep us hopeful.
What's dashing our hopes now is the increased costs of opening, of starting up from scratch.
Two years of building a customer base, of guerilla advertising, of community involvement, and we'd be stbale enough to weather these changes. But if we couldn't get sufficient funding two-three years ago, when things were more conducive to opening, the chances have slimmed a lot.
Now, before you think we're too pessimistic and have given up, let me reassure you. We are pessimistic. Things are looking bad for start-ups in our field. But we see the patterns that will reverse. Not soon, though. Not soon enough for our taste, but still soon enough that we are still working on plans to someday open the Cracked Cauldron
We're looking at reduced plans, even at plans that are related but not excatly what we want. We can build on that basic to achieve what we want the Cracked Cauldron to be, it will just take much, much longer.
As we said in the last few posts, we are re-vamping how we present this blog. Instead of being a chronicle of our start-up adventures, we will make it more of a sharing of the recipe development, charity work, and silliness we engage in as we plot and plan towards the day we'll take over the world - at least as far as our little boutique bakery will let us.
Remember, the homeless and working poor are hungry every day of hte year, not just in the winter.
We have our Sandwich Saturdays - and you can participate easily enough. Just make as many sandwiches as you can afford to make (daily, weekly, monthly) and take them out to where the hungry congregate and pass them out. Some Saturdays, all we can afford is maybe 50 sandwiches, but that's 50 people who get to eat that day who wouldn't have eaten otherwise. We save up for Sandwich Saturdays by setting aside the money we would have spent on a nice lunch or dinner in a good restaurant (and your conception of a nice lunch or dinner may be different from ours, so the amount you set aside can vary) and using that money to buy ingredients for the sandwiches. We either fast for that meal, or eat a sandwich ourselves instead of in a restaurant. In our Bounty Ministry, we don't believe in shortchanging our own needs, but in sharing our surplus.
It's surprising how many people can find surpluses in their lives. It may be extra clothes, or extra food, or that sofa taking up space in the attic or garage, or those tools that still work but you don't use anymore, or that craft kit you started and never finished.
Next post, we'll share some of our summer soups.