Opening a new bar is an expensive task. Generally people finance this with money raised from family, business partners, and loans. The idea is that once the business is operational, it will hopefully make a profit, and you can repay your loans and investors.
Nikisha "Yes, We Can" Carpenter decided to take today's trendy term "grassroots" and somehow apply it to the bar industry. Instead of having a business plan and getting investors, she's just asking for donations over the Internet. If it worked for Howard Dean and Barack Obama, it can work for her as well. Right?
From the Kindred site:
Have you ever found yourself wondering why that bottle of Miller Light at the bar costs the same as a six-pack at the liquor store? Or, why you have to pay so much more for a martini that only takes a minute to shake when you’re at home? Well, the answer to those questions is pretty simple: Bars charge more than liquor stores because they have to pay more overhead: opening costs, renting a space, paying employees, and interest on bank loans. When you do the math, it all adds up.So which ones of those (opening costs, rent, payroll and interest) don't liquor stores have to pay? It is true that a swanky lounge likely has more overhead than a corner liquor store. They also can turn a lot more profit.
The argument and apparent "mission" of Kindred is to raise $100,000 (that's a lot!) to open a lounge. Supposedly once this is open, prices will be very reasonable because they got $100,000 for free rather than from a bank or investors. It's unclear how that initial $100K will keep prices down in the long run. Will their employees be volunteers? Also, keep in mind that by donating you do not become an investor or shareholder. You are giving this person your money, because a web site told you that you'd be getting a cheap, swanky lounge.
So far, on the Kindred blog, we have a selection of testimonials. Here's one:
Nikisha is doing something great for the community, opening up more doors for everyone ... who wouldn't want to support that.
Well, Ice, I'm glad to see that there's no better use for a hundred grand in DC than to open up a swanky lounge.
Again, from the site's mission statement:
I realize this is something unprecedented. My goal is to raise money through the community and via online donations from supporters like you to help cover the cost of opening KINDRED — a for profit business. And I’m hoping to do so with your help and support. Grassroots isn’t just for politics, after all, right?It's unprecedented because it's a terrible idea. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome to get fired up about something and to raise money for a good cause. But there's a reason why bars aren't 501(c)3 non-profits. She even mentions here that it is a "for profit business." Non-profits across the region and the nation are struggling, laying people off and discontinuing vital services to people. And Kindred wants to ask people to give them $100K to open a bar along a trendy (and expensive) strip of U Street?
This, like socialism, sounds like a great idea. But come on, asking the world give you money to open a bar with the promise that you will only try to make a little bit of profit? I don't care who you are or how awesome of an idea you have for a bar, that just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Even if you promised me a kickass Jurassic Park themed bar, I'm not going to just give you money because you said so! It's a lounge on U Street! Exactly how does a "cheap" $3 Miller Lite or a $5 martini help the community?
Gee whiz, I'd like to buy a house. Can the Internet help me pay for it? I promise once I get it I'll invite everyone over for dinner once a month.
In case you actually want to donate some money to a good cause, here's a few suggestions: