In our own neighborhood, we said farewell to several retail operations in the last few years. We lost our local Applebee’s restaurant. A Bob Evans not so long ago. And a big disappointment came when the Barnes and Noble closed its doors. Farther away, a unique restaurant, operated by a successful business group, locked up and tore down a place called Key Wester. It had a big aquarium, a waterfall, and doors that opened in summer to overlook black swans on a small body of water. Very refreshing. But…gone.
What we don’t usually see are the tears shed by people who’ve invested a part or all of their adult life trying to make a go of their dream. We don’t see the hours agonizing over ways to save the business and keep people they care about employed. We don’t see the creditors who may not get their money back from what they loaned in trust. Pain goes along with the closing of those doors.
So I read with interest a story that gave me a light chuckle — at first — about a man desperate to save his business in Candia, New Hampshire. Kevin Dumont is a principle owner of the Liquid Planet Water Park. If you’ll excuse the expression, his water park business is going under. And he’s making a life-saving effort by chaining himself to a 30-foot waterslide to keep it afloat. *groan*
Dumont has camped out. He needs a bailout. In his words, “We’re losing everything if we can't find a partner. We just need to save it from going to the auction block. We need an infusion of cash to pay off the debt….We’re hoping this effort will give us some offers.”
It’s not like no one is showing up. The park had 35,000-plus visitors this past season. Since 2008 when Liquid Planet opened, Dumont admits it’s been an uphill challenge. But it’s only in the past year that he’s fallen behind in his payments.
He properly does not blame the bank for his woes. But Dumont was notified in September of the bank’s plans to auction off the 44-acre property (that includes his home) on December 2nd. A bank does what they must do for their own clients’ sake.
But Dumont’s story is more painful when you learn that both his father and mother died within the last four months. Losing your parents and your business within 140 days of each other plays havoc on the human spirit. Thus…the desperate act of a desperate man to chain himself to a water slide.
Kevin Dumont claims he started the business for families. A noble purpose offers no guarantees for success. Too many forces come to bear to make a business survive.
Size does not matter. Giant airlines get bought out or cease to exist. K-Mart has Sears behind them but keeps faltering. Sears itself is making what some think are desperate moves to stay alive. And, of course, Blockbuster became a failure equal to its name.
Times change. People’s tastes do as well. Innovation opens new markets. Staying competitive is a true art in business.
Some go the route of reinvention. I’ve been reading rumors of McDonald’s demise for a couple of years now. Recently, they have started serving breakfast all day. There has been an uptick in their customer count. Who said playing this investor driven game of “staying alive” was going to be fun?
People of faith are not immune in any way to business failings. More recently, Family Christian Stores fought tooth and nail to survive. Only after large concessions have they managed to do so after $127 million in debt was erased.
Years ago, the startup company I put together came to a point where it appeared things would collapse. I decided to “give my business to God” — which sounded very dramatic. My friend Chuck Gratner looked at me over breakfast after I shared this and replied, “Maybe God doesn’t want your business.” Yeah…hadn’t quite considered that. It tanked four months later.
Spiritual lesson: Not all things are meant to be. Not all things are meant to last. Not all dreams come true. As “The Preacher” wrote in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest….A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecc 3:1-4, NLT)
Some sound advice. As a few wise Byrds once told me.
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