Oct. 22–Two local entrepreneurs may have hit on a novel solution for covering the costs of running a traditional brick-and-mortar business by forming their own mini cooperative to share expenses and labor.
What appears to be a single business in the former Daylight Donuts location on Danville Road is actually two entities — Jubilee Cold Brew Coffee, owned by Shannon King, and Mix-In Magic, owned by John and Cari Yatsko.
The entrepreneurs have known each other only since July. They are not formal business partners, owning no portion of the other’s company, but they share the cost of rent and utilities. They also sell each other’s products, eliminating the need for both entrepreneurs to be in the store during all operational hours.
“It’s very surprising how expensive it is to open a business,” said King, who raised money on Kickstarter to relocate her business from Huntsville to Decatur.
The cooperative brought two new businesses to the River City as of Oct. 1.
King had planned to open in a solo location near Sixth Avenue, but found the cost of a required grease interceptor made the location unaffordable. The Yatskos were moving their business from Pennsylvania to Decatur to be closer to family.
The entrepreneurs were introduced by Larry Waye, executive director of the Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center.
“I thought it was pretty cool that they were able to work that out,” said Waye, adding he was not aware of any other collocated businesses in the city but that others could follow.
The entrepreneurs admit the cooperative is not without risk. Because they share expenses, each is dependent upon the success of the other to keep costs low. Under the arrangement, the Yatskos hold the lease and sublet a portion of the space to King.
Due to their labor-sharing arrangement, they also must depend on each other to sell each other’s products when one is not around.
But they emphasize the arrangement is so far going well, noting that each business already had an established client list before they joined the cooperative and that they quickly established a working relationship.
“I went to Shannon and said, ‘Tell me everything you know about your product.’ So I took time to learn about her product and she took time to learn about mine,” John Yatsko said.
“We both want each other to succeed,” King said.
They also point out that their products are complementary, so they are not competing against each other. Mix-In Magic sells mixes of spices and other ingredients for dips, frostings and wine slushies, as well as soup mixes. Jubilee sells cold-brewed coffee, coffee beans, tea and a cooking rub for meat and vegetables.
They share a point of sale system that King said makes it easy to differentiate which business sold what.
“When people come, it’s hard to tell that they’re two separate businesses,” John Yatsko said. “It’s just seamless.”
The cooperative is the first storefront for both businesses with the Yatskos doing the bulk of their selling online and King selling much of her product through other vendors, including Whole Foods. The entrepreneurs hope to increase their sales through the storefront.
For the time being, King is still working a full-time job in Huntsville, but she said she hopes to go full time at Jubilee sometime next year.
The retail storefront also functions as a café or restaurant. Due to Food and Drug Administration restrictions, they have separate storage areas for all their ingredients and supplies.
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