Today is Pi Day, 3.14… (The date sort of breaks down after the first two decimal points. It was fun in 2015 though…)
I had intended to make a vegetarian shepherd’s pie, but I hadn’t finished eating the potato, leek and fennel soup I made earlier in the week. So there wasn’t a great deal of incentive to make more food. Even though I could have frozen the pie and saved it for later.
But then I got busy on other things. First, I had to shovel another foot of snow off of my walkway. Well, no, first, we all lost an hour to daylight savings time, and I lost about twenty minutes to changing all the clocks, much of which time was taken up in trying to get the enormous wall clock back on its hanger… Anyway… that done, I shoveled. It was windy and around 25°F, so being outside was not at all pleasant. More to the point, it is March! I should not be shoveling snow! So I was out there muttering imprecations on the weather and generally being scowly for a good forty minutes. Fortunately, it was a thorough work-out. So some benefit accrued.
However, as I was shoveling snow in the middle of March, I decided that the need for sympathetic magic might have hit critical. So, though I have no small people in my life and hold no great love of spring stuff, I spent the greater part of the afternoon digging out what remains of rabbits and eggs in my leftover kid’s bookstore decoration bins. My house is now more vernal than it’s been in years. If it works, you all can thank me. If it doesn’t, well, I tried.
So there is no shepherd’s pie. However, there is a pie-related thing. I have this idea that I’ve been turning over and over in my head, and the other day I finally gave voice to it — and was affronted when the person I was talking to called it ‘pie-in-the-sky’. So I want more opinions and maybe some advice. Mostly, I’d just like to know if this is a thing. Or — as I suspect it is not — could it be a thing?
Here’s the thing. My employers apparently want to move away from Vermont. (I don’t know why… it’s just a little snow…) There is a plan to do this soonish, and there is a subsidiary plan to pass on the store to my co-worker who has been working for them for about a decade. She does not feel at all good about running a business. However, I’ve done that… so I sort of said I’d back her up. At least to the point of creating the business plan and obtaining what financing is necessary. I don’t want to do anything other than what I am already doing in day-to-day operations, but I can get it going and give her advice.
The more I think on this, the more I sort of like the idea. I’ve always wanted a shop dedicated to local and seasonal living. My name for the calendar pieces on this blog — The Year Round — is taken from this nebulous dream that predates my bookstore. So enter greenhouse and farm-stand that will suddenly be without steering, and my plotting head went into overdrive.
Until it arrived at pie-in-the-sky.
I don’t want to own a business again, so I was leaning toward an employee-owned B-corp structure. From there it was a short leap to a co-op venture. But then I started thinking about craft cooperatives. We already have crafters and artists and even a couple food vendors who sell on consignment. Another short leap made me wonder if this business could be a co-op venture for customers and vendors. This sounded particularly good for the farm and garden producers who don’t have much income in the first quarter. We could pay out dividends in the slow months when there is no produce and few plants to sell. It wouldn’t be much of a dividend, I’m sure, but it might be enough to pay a bill or two in those dead months. And, if we have membership buy-ins like most co-ops, then we might be able to sell with lower mark-ups, or maybe lower consignment-like percentage-on-sale for our vendors.
It all sounds like it could be great. Trouble is, I don’t think this exists. Apparently, at least one person thinks it’s silly fantasies, and I can find nothing on the state’s business licensing website that indicates how to make it happen… but that’s never stopped me before. So, are there people reading this who have knowledge and opinions on such things? Does this sound like a viable venture? And can someone help me make it so? Because I really think this sort of thing would be a useful business structure as we move deeper into economic chaos and have to localize many things.
Comments are open. If you have anything at all to say — even just a ‘you’re not crazy’ — I’d love to hear it.
However, if it is pie-in-the-sky, I probably need to hear that also… but I’d rather not…
©Elizabeth Anker 2022