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Campaign launched to save Local Harvest Grocery

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Local Harvest Grocery & Catering owner Maddie Earnest is speaking out. The Tower Grove business owner is in need of help. Her local grocery store and two cafes are at risk of closing. A 2012 expansion in Kirkwood didn't pan out, and now they`re fighting to keep their doors open. So owners started a unique Facebook campaign to ask customers for help. The goal is to raise $120,000 by February 7th. Earnest says she`s hopeful.

"What we`re doing is reaching out to the community and asking them if they want to buy a punch card to our cafes. They can also buy a gift certificate with it. You agree not to use it until 2015 as a way to bring money in to the businesses," Earnest said.

Local Harvest has about 40 employees who could be affected by the potential closure. Shopper Patricia Tippit has been a loyal customer since the store opened in 2007 and says she can't imagine her neighborhood without her favorite store.

"The store was one of the biggest draws to the neighborhood for us. It`s great to have a local resource for organic produce," said Tippit.

Fifty percent of the products come from local farmers. An idea local vegetable producer John Williams wants to keep alive.

"We hope the community comes together and scores a win for the local food economy," said Williams.

"Missouri is number 2 only to Texas in terms of the number of small farms so we have a lot to be proud of, and that`s what we promote in our stores," said Earnest.

The challenge is on, and the word is out, now all owners and loyal customers can do is hope for the best. Earnest says if they don`t reach their goal, gift certificates purchased by customers will be refunded. They are also looking into discussions with new equity partners.

"We`ve developed a relationship with these people and they`re family truly," Tippit said.

Follow Shawndrea Thomas on Facebook


  • Thomas

    Great sentiment, poor plan. The cafe is average at best, with the food being slightly above and the layout being far below. There is no room to move, always a crowd, and despite 6 employees or more, it can take a long while to get anything you order. This of course is dependent on them having what the menu says on hand, as they tend to run out early. I particularly love having to walk around the crowded serving/prep counter and standing in the kitchen to wait on the one restroom. With the fan base this apparently has, I think it would be a better investment to find a better location for the remaining cafe and start over.

  • Potthast

    Is Local Harvest (LH) planning on taking steps to repay the people who loaned them money for the Kirkwood store? LH is in default on at least two notes and sent letters stating that they had no money to repay them. Seems like LH wants to be treated like a business LLC (which it should be) when they don’t repay their debts, but when they want to stay in business, they have no issues asking for donations. Their current appeal is like the one that they used to raise money for the Kirkwood store to open. At that time they sent out an appeal request asking people to donate money for a freezer so that they could open the Kirkwood location. They took people’s money, and then later closed the store and defaulted on repayment of loans – afterwards sending a letter stating that there was no money. Now they are asking for even more money, with no thought to repayment of the defaulted loans for the Kirkwood investors. Regarding the KW location, I thought that they just had no business sense and investors took a risk. But their current appeal leads me to believe that they are preying on people’s generosity – and that this is some type of scheme. If they want to receive donations, then they should be classified as a non-profit, not an LLC. Seems like the Secretary of State should be contacted regarding the tax implications of how this group of businesses is abusing their “business” classification with the Missouri Secretary of State.

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