Killing Off My First Business

Killing Off My First Business Blog Post

Did the dramatic article title pull you in?

R.I.P - Minnesota Mall

Disclaimer: It gets much less dramatic from here. Just needed some click-bait to get you in.

But it is time to close up shop on the first brand built by Fight For Something: The Minnesota Mall. We'll be closing it on May 31. Between now and then, the whole store will be 20% off as we try to clear our shelves and position for what is next.

For those who are interested we wanted to bring you in on the tough decision behind closing it.

Starting a business is so personal that the thought of killing off a company/brand that you've started feels painful. We've known it is coming for a while, but we've been slow to finally do it. The thought of closing up a business isn't sexy; in fact, it is tempting to just keep it open and ignore it versus actually coming out and saying we're shutting it down. But the whole "pretend like everything is growing up and to the right at all times" is also a really lame approach to business and life in general. That's not real.

The past few years we've seen Northern Glasses and the MN Christmas Market grow in ways that made it harder to justify the time required to maintain the Minnesota Mall at the level of quality we feel necessary. We can see some situations playing out where this brand comes back to life someday... Perhaps in the form of a brick and mortar.

But for now we know we need to close it so we can focus our time and our energy within Fight For Something where there is momentum.

Minnesota Mall was the start of this whole social business journey and was born to do 2 things:

  1. Make it easier for Minnesota customers to shop in a socially-minded way
  2. Encourage businesses in Minnesota to become more socially-minded/generous in who they are, and celebrate them as a result of it

At this point in our story, the brands we've built after the Minnesota Mall are helping us to realize this more fully.

I actually did a deep dive and found a page from my musings the night I decided to start the brand (formerly called Voice). You can now see why I needed to hire Sophie and avoid all things artistic.

I'll never forget sitting in my apartment kitchen looking at my wife and I's spending trying to get a feel for the impact it was having, and hating a lie I'd bought into; that the only money from our life that was making an impact were the dollars going straight out the door to charity.

From there, I set off trying to build a store based on the assumption that if people had the ability to have an impact through the $ going towards their general life expenses, that they would want to in a heartbeat. So this chicken-scratch drawing was born, where I started envisioning the lines between charity and general consumption being blurred. Not in a way that diminishes the importance of generosity and those dollars that go straight out the door to charities, but in a way that calls out the reminder that the rest of the money we spend has an impact as well. That perhaps generosity and intentionality are closely connected.

The vision started coming together of a place where people could shop for decor for their home, and drinks for date night, and gifts for their loved ones and all sorts of other stuff, knowing that 7% of their shopping would be invested into a charity of their choice.

And for any brands to be a part of the platform, they had to adopt this generosity into their own margins. It was a chance for them to win the business of customers through their own heart and sacrifice.

Over the last few years we've started a large scale Christmas market where the same spirit and model is at play... A place where 7% of everything the customer spend goes to charity. And we bring in 40+ vendors. And music. And drinks. And it is this giant event that again, blends charity with things that people were already wanting to do... Shop, eat, drink, and have fun.

We've also started a few other brands such as Northern Glasses and Custom + Kind where the entire business model is built around the assumption that a large chunk of our money is going out the door to various charities and causes.

We've been further realizing the vision of a conscious shopping experience through these brands that came after Minnesota Mall.  In 2020, we're at the point in our business where we can have a greater impact by focusing our energy on those brands that came later. Any resources we put towards the Minnesota Mall takes away from what we could be putting towards the other arms of our business.

We're a small team that is limited, and one of the hardest choices we constantly have to make is prioritizing where to focus our time. It is rarely as simple as choosing between a bad idea and a good one. More often, the most important decisions are between two good ideas, and which one is most worth it. We still love Minnesota Mall and what it could be and what it stands for, and have no doubt in our mind that not a single one of our other brands would exist today if Minnesota Mall weren't ever born. But it's time to let it go for the time being.

One commonality between many of the people we're learning from and admire is their ability to obsessively focus. This allows them to unashamedly vet their yeses and their no's when deciding how to use their resources. As we seek our mission of making social business a norm instead of a niche, we feel confident in shifting our resources away from the Minnesota Mall.

I guess there's one other part of it we should probably mention as well. We're getting ready to launch a new brand. And we will need all hands on deck to get it off the ground. We're really excited at the opportunity and potential behind our next project: Emiliani Coffee, the coffee that brings kids home. The brand is set to launch in the spring/summer of 2020. Stay in the loop we'd encourage you to give us a like on our Facebook page or follow us on Instagram.


The Other Entrepreneurs is a blog written by Mitch Reaume, a social entrepreneur based out of Minneapolis and his company Fight For Something.  The Other Entrepreneurs is a blog for entrepreneurs and people who want to measure the success of their life around the impact they have and not the zeroes in their bank account.  The blog centers around social entrepreneurship in a way that is hopefully a bit more honest and transparent... and hopefully less about vanity and a life of excess than the average entrepreneur on the internet. It’s a blog whose content consists of the thoughts and experiences of our own company trying to make a difference, and the things we’re learning along the way.  This is a blog for the other entrepreneurs.

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