Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Follow-Up on Food For Thought

In my first entreVIEW post, I wrote about the Kickstarter campaigns of Travail and Birchwood. The New York Times recently published an article on the increased skepticism toward crowdfunding. The article highlighted two small business owners in Brooklyn who needed funds to relocate their business because their landlord increased their rent by more than 500%. To help alleviate the financial stress, they decided to start a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The business owners did receive some support, but a majority of the responses they received were negative.

Some of the critics of crowdfunding disapprove of business owners asking customers to provide funds for their projects, arguing that they are asking for “hand-outs” when they may have other means to achieve their financial goals. But others defend the practice as providing the opportunity to financially support a business that adds value to the local community in exchange for a gift and/or service from the business. In the conclusion of the documentary “Food, Inc.,” the narrator states that we vote three times a day on how we want to have our food processed. The same rule applies here—we can vote with our wallets to reward the businesses we value. 

I’m glad that the Twin Cities community has shown that it values Birchwood. Birchwood surpassed its goal and raised $112,126 in its Kickstarter campaign. The purpose of its campaign was to raise money for a much-needed expansion of the restaurant. I recently went to Birchwood for dinner (I had the black bean quinoa burger and a slice of key lime pie – yum!) to have one last meal before they close for the next ten weeks. Before they closed this past weekend, they asked customers to “leave your mark” on a piece of the original Birchwood that will be torn down during construction (see above). If you can’t wait until the renovation is complete, Birchwood will be operating a pop-up at nearby Verdant Tea on March 1st.

I look forward to visiting Birchwood when it reopens this spring!

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