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The Sweet Sweet (But Maybe Not) Struggle Of Starting A Family Business With No Money In A Small Town

Mitchell Wilson


Mitchell Wilson


Dec 27, 2023

The Sweet Sweet (But Maybe Not) Struggle Of Starting A Family Business With No Money In A Small Town

It’s been a back-burner dream to start a health foods store since 2017.

And each year since then that’s gone by, my wife and I have grown a bit more serious about it. This summer, I decided to make it a thing, to push into this dream and make it real. I learned through my day job how to put together a business plan, financial projections, and a pitch deck - this process drastically de-mystified how to start a business.

It was time to put our idea to the test.

Why We Are Starting A Small Business Locally

There’s a deep desire to do our own thing. 

I hate having 40+ hours of my week disconnected from my wife and kids.

My kids don’t yet understand what a day job is and why it’s such an important thing. All they know is I leave in the mornings and come home in the evenings. If I’m fortunate enough to work at home from time to time, they think I’m on my laptop ignoring them. That’s just the way they see it ultimately. These things drive me crazy and push me to want a family business. Something they can be involved with and grow up participating in. 

I’ve met enough business owners at this point to realize they are usually no smarter than me. Humans like everybody. No more capable than I am to take business ownership on.

But that’s not enough in itself. It all has to be aimed at solving an interesting problem. Something worth our while.

That’s an easy decision.

Enter: Tare Bulk Foods

Back when we lived in Bellingham Washington we fell in love with the bulk food aisle at our local food co-op.

It was a no-brainer way to grab our weekly staples like nuts, grains, oats, chocolate, coffee, spices, teas, nut butter, dried fruit, etc. We could cut way down on trash since we brought our containers in to refill, plus it was cheaper than paying for the packaged versions. And we didn’t mind the added tactile experience to the grocery shopping process. We could get as little or as much as we wanted without breaking the bank.

Right away, we agreed that we needed to bring this back to TN. And that’s what we’re up to now, trying to bring this to our local community here in TN.

Nothing like this exists in the area. To get healthy groceries from places like Sprouts or Whole Foods, we have to drive about an hour each way every single week. Not very practical at all.

We live in Dickson, which is an hour West of Nashville. It’s largely the ‘last frontier’ for expansion of growth from the big city. Plus, since the pandemic, tons of people are moving here all the time. Moving from places that had healthy food options. The need is absolutely here.

So we’re setting out to start Tare Bulk Foods.

Tare will bring healthy bulk foods to my local community. Think scoop bins, paper bags and glass jars for refilling, and scales to weigh out only what you pay for.

Think modern version of an old general store. That’s the tasteful vibe we’re going for.

Fair prices, healthy options, less waste, connect more with your food, all while shopping in an aesthetically pleasing place.

That’s our goal with Tare.

Obstacles We’re Currently Facing

For several months now, I’ve been spending nights & weekends going hard trying to get this business started.

60+ page business plan, thorough data-backed financial projections, business license, drafted lease for Main Street location, mood board, inventory lists, vendor relationships, everything.

I’ve been working with a lender to acquire an SBA loan to start this business, and after months of answering all their questions and providing every single thing they’ve asked for….they said no. Well, actually one person on the team said no. The rest of their team signed off and agreed with my plans. The reasoning was that my town wasn’t ready for this business. Yet, I have stacks of evidence proving otherwise. Not to count the ‘feel of the town’ I can’t exactly put into words that comes from just knowing where I live and how it’s changing.

I did not expect this ’No’ at all. It was made to seem like a no-big-deal type of process and loan. Up until this decision, they were even wanting me to teach others how to put together business plans and financials. (They had me feeling so good there for awhile!) So I’ve been struggling to find an alternative way to fund this venture.

I’m chatting with other lenders, exploring other business programs, grants, etc. Soon I’ll be seeking investment if plan A doesn’t bear fruit. This business just has to happen. And it will, it’s inevitable.

For months now, there have been hundreds of synchronicities and meaningful happenings showing that it is meant to be. Things, for the most part, have gone way too well for it not to work out. So I’m trusting that. I’m having my patience tested like never before. But I know the power of persistence and not giving up. So I press on. We press on. It’s only a matter of time and I cannot wait.

If you have any tips I’d be happy to hear. 

Otherwise, it would be awesome to have you signed up for Tare so you can stay in the loop when it gets going. 

Here’s a link if you’re feeling frisky.

It feels good to share this with you all finally - there’s only so much time in a week so it’s not always easy to handle a day job, family time, sleep, regular newsletter program, plus Tare - but I make due as much as I can.

Wouldn’t have it any other way y’all. 📈

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