It all started with an article in the local newspaper, titled "Town for Sale at the Right Price," published in June 2009. Not long after that, we were out for a drive and decided to check it out. Joe, the owner, was there mowing the lawn, and was nice enough to answer our questions. Mostly, we just wanted to know why Emmaville was closed - what had happened? Joe explained he had tried selling it contract-for-deed, but got it back when the buyer couldn't make a go of it. Joe's health wouldn't allow him to continue running it.
Driving home, we talked about the possibilities, but quickly dismissed the idea. Who would want to work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week?
As the months went by, Emmaville occasionally came up in our conversations: "if we had Emmaville, we could...". Out hunting rummage sales or returning from a shopping trip to Bemidji, we would find ourselves driving by: "Huh, still closed...what if...?"
In the spring of 2010, Mike had the opportunity to take a buyout from the company he cofounded 18 years earlier. As we contemplated what to do next, we knew we wanted to stay close to home - no more business travel. Looking around the area, we didn't see many attractive opportunities to start or buy a business. Meanwhile, Emmaville kept surfacing in our conversations: "yes, it would be a lot of work, but it could also be a lot of fun...". The more we talked about it, the more ideas we had for creating something unique.
On the plane during his last few business trips, Mike began looking at a cash flow analysis - it was doable. A business plan was drafted, potential show-stoppers (were the gas tanks in compliance?) were checked out. We made an offer in September. We'll close by the end of October.
Folly? Perhaps. An adventure for sure.