June 21, 2021
It is interesting how when things fall apart, they fall apart quickly. That is what this last week at our market has felt like–an unraveling. But oftentimes what feels like an ending, is actually a reshaping; the destruction of one thing to make room for the birth of another. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that our world has changed and the way things used to be has changed.
Over the past couple of weeks we (Ross and Jamie) discovered that we were not in the purchase agreement that we thought we were, that our offer of the price we had locked in last year (and all we have) was not enough, that without our purchase of the building our lease was actually ending at the end of August and would not be renewed, and that our only way of saving our business in the Hope location would be to come up with significantly more money OR hope that the owner is able to sell the building before the end of August and the new owners would want us to stay. Since we were already significantly short-staffed as it was, and therefore operating out of overwork, exhaustion and near chaos, this last uncertainty was too much to take for our staff. Due a crazy pandemic year, mask ordinances, labor shortage, coin shortage, angry customers disgruntled by the pandemic, increased cost in food, and the complete change in how we operate by adding the restaurant–coupled with the fact that we had never run a restaurant before and were trying to figure it out on the fly in real time–we were already sitting on a powder keg before we even knew that our offer to purchase the building would be turned down and we wouldn’t be able to stay.
Thursday night we received a text from our chef that she was offered an opportunity that could not be passed up but it required her to leave immediately and was therefore leaving that night and would not be there in the morning. Without a head chef, almost all of the other employees followed suit except one staff member. (With the chaos of this, who could blame them?) Literally overnight the cafe was inoperable. Friday morning we woke to the realization that we could not operate our restaurant until we could find more staff, and killing the restaurant suddenly like this before the 4th of July was basically a death sentence. We probably overreacted a little by the sheer weight of everything, and took a minute to feel sorry for ourselves. But Ross and I have been through worse; the smoke cleared and we remembered something powerful–we have each other, we have faith, and we have community.
With the grace of God and our amazing community, in 2018, our business had to survive a late start and almost no funding due to crazy leasehold improvements that had to be completed to open and no contractors available so we had to do it all ourselves; in 2019, we got through a road closure causing a 6 mile detour during our first year and summer; in 2020, we got through the pandemic that along with everything else caused us to lose our distributor and we had to drive EVERYwhere to find food to stock our shelves, and had to adapt to a constantly changing set of rules, ordinances, expectations and risk. So in 2021, we will survive a labor shortage. It might not look pretty, and will be inconvenient for a while, but we will survive it. However, we will not survive in Hope if we are kicked out of this building.
So here is what we are proposing. Our offer for the building was rejected outright, so there is no way we can afford to buy it. BUT what if instead of one person buying it, a group of people did? What if the COMMUNITY buys the store? We have been asked time and time again by customers/community members who love our store what can they do to help, and this is it–buy the building to save our store. If the building does not sell to someone who wants to keep the store by August, we will have to move. A group of people from right here in Hope could create a community cooperative that owns the building and the cabins and then leases the space to Davis Market & Cafe. This building and property has been a part of this community from the very beginning, from 1907 as Donnovan-Hopka-Ninneman, Co., to the 1930’s-70’s as the Butler Tourist Stop, to the 70’s-90’s as The Hi Hopes Market. For over 100 years, generations of families have been caretakers of the building and property, and the community of Hope and East Hope can claim this heritage by saving the local store and becoming a cooperative of caretakers.
Other communities have done this to save their local store or pub, and it has worked. The Hope Community Cooperative ensures a legacy, provides a much needed resource for the town, and benefits everyone. This could work–but it needs your support.
For more information, please contact Ross at the store or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
However this ends up, it has been the joy of our lives to serve this community and we will forever be grateful.
–The Davis Family