We wrote several weeks ago about budding retail around Northwest Highway and Ferndale, but at least one tenant is in trouble.
In an innovative move, one of True Value Gecko Hardware’s owners Andrea Ridout launched a gofundme.com page to court investors and raise funds to keep the store afloat. Ridout’s plea also offers an explanation to frustrated customers wondering why the store’s shelves have been increasingly bare.
“Our dream was to create a source for local and eco-friendly products alongside the standard nuts and bolts of a traditional hardware store,” Ridout notes. “We hoped to inspire creativity, learning and fellowship with classes and weekend events. We chose East Dallas … because of its green vibe and local charm … I have never seen such a welcoming response as we found here in Lake Highlands … but that path is threatened. Like many new businesses, we are struggling with cash flow…”
She goes on to mention the closing of several locally owned stores, the negative impact of heavy rains on home and garden suppliers and the struggle to survive independent of a major corporation. (True Value is a co-op buying group for independent dealers but our store is 100 percent locally owned,” she explains.)
“Just last year, we won several awards including Best New Hardware Store in the Country,” she continues. “This year, we are challenged each month just to re-order basic products, which demonstrates how quickly things can change.”
Ridout explains that she has applied for grants and loans but has not received enough to keep the store, as it is, open. She could go the traditional investor route, she says, but does not want to risk losing the autonomy that allows, for example, the existence of store mascot George the rooster and his new mate Gracie (congratulations, George, we hadn’t heard). Also at risk is the freedom to choose local vendors and the frequency of community outreach programs, she adds.
Those who want to see Gecko live, in its current form, can help in several ways, notes the owner. One, continue to shop, despite the inventory shortage. “We will special order just about anything you need.” Two, give a heads up to “locally minded” investors who might be interested in becoming a partner in the business. Three, make a small personal contribution to the fund — a $20 contribution wins you a T-shirt and a 10-percent off coupon good for 30 days. And $50 gets you the same, plus a selfie/hug with George.
Consumers have responded with mixed feelings about Ridout’s efforts. “If the idea was good, that is, if there is demand for the service and goods why the lack of revenues? … Maybe the model needs to be changed … Why throw money at a non-profitable concept just so you can realize your personal dream,” writes Allan Petersen on the public gofundme.com page.
Others seem more supportive: “We do hope this does the trick and you succeed. Great store,” writes Brian Maupin on the same page, though he expresses concern about products he needs being out of stock.
The most telling sign of support is the fact that some $5,500 has been donated in the first 21 hours. The stated fundraising goal is $100,000.