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Dear Mrs. Hauser,
I am writing to thank you for applying to the Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) under our small business start-up loan program for “Ye Olde Angry Villager Shoppe.”
Your business proposal and tag line, “Outrage Outfitters for the 21st Century”, may have been the most entertaining we’ve ever received. Also, you correctly identified that the lust for vitriol in the public square is unprecedented, and we were intrigued to know about your plans to capitalize on a commodity that is in such high demand.
But beyond these slivers of merit, our loans committee couldn’t see any long-term potential for this as a viable business and therefore we have no choice but to decline your application for funding at this time.
To be honest, Mrs. Hauser, your proposal is deeply flawed on so many levels. It’s hard to list them all.
Our loans committee was unanimously skeptical about the trend you foresee that the “insatiable appetite for fury will result in a nostalgic return to the old world mob.”
That’s more than a bit of a stretch. And even if you were right, and large numbers of people suddenly grew tired of having strictly virtual outlets for their anger and voluntarily surrendered their secrecy, once they’d walked away from the keyboard, struggled through traffic and found a parking spot, they may well have cooled off by the time they arrive at your store.
Don’t you see: The effort it would take to purchase outrage paraphernalia might have the unintended consequence of dampening the very fires of indignation you wish to stoke?
Our thinking is that even though it’s apparent that people love to play the shame game, they will always want to be able to do it quickly, quietly, and, most of all, conveniently. The absence of sober second-thought is the very fuel of the modern, bloodless crucifixion. Taking these realities into consideration, a brick-and-mortar store represents a very low value-proposition to you and your potential customers.
Even If the odds against your success weren’t already insurmountable, there’s your product line to contend with.
Your proposed inventory of cloaks, celtic peasant hoods, wool tunics, linen doublets, pitchforks and torches, is hopelessly old-fashioned and out-of-date. Let’s face it: These are curiosities, at best. You might be able to get some traction at Halloween, but your products would be unlikely to find a year-round market in a downtown setting and would be better-suited to an online marketplace such as Etsy.
If the arty, crafty people of the world can sell mohair cat-suits and crocheted shorts for men, in spite of the strong likelihood of a burning case of crotch itch, you will probably find an audience for your Angry Villager atelier.
I must confess to having been rather fond of your hand-crafted, highly flammable custom-made effigies. The straw samples of Dalhousie Dentistry students and anti-vaxxers you included with your application were greeted by hearty applause from the loan committee. The little lab coats and clip boards were delightful and the one who looked like Jenny McCarthy was my favourite.
But your business plan makes no mention of how you would launch into large-scale production of these effigies and, more importantly, how you would even begin to estimate quantities. Do you have any manufacturing experience?
Personally, I always get a little suspicious when a group or individual has been painted with the scarlet letter. Will anyone still care in 6 months, or 6 weeks, or even 6 minutes? In the meantime, the bloodletting is over and the mob has moved on to something more scintillating and you’ll be stuck with a massive inventory of useless effigies.
Of course, I haven’t even begun to deal with the insurance and liability implications, which are astronomical. This is not a line of business for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.
I sympathize with your wanting to have a “back-up plan” should the “newspaper thing” not work out. That is understandable. And I’m sorry that you were turned down for the International Pundit Academy again—what a blow that must have been. Better luck next year.
Please know that it is not the CFDC’s wish to squelch your entrepreneurial spirit, which is commendable: Your long term goal of franchising Ye Old Angry Villager Shoppe across North America speaks volumes about your drive and ambition, misguided though it is in this scenario.
But we simply cannot support such an ill-fated endeavour and we encourage you to use your substantial creativity toward a more productive end.
Wishing you every good thing... so long as it doesn’t involve setting anyone ablaze!
James P. Sherman
Commercial Loan Officer, CFDC
Michelle Hauser is a former professional fundraiser turned humorist and freelance writer. She lives in Eastern Ontario (Canada) with her husband Mark and their son Joseph. Please click here to sign up for her monthly Newsletter.