Many of you might ask where I’ve been the past few months. The simple answer is – trying to raise money for Amai and find creative options for increasing sales. The more realistic answer is – trying unsuccessfully to grow the business, and feeling frustrated and paralyzed by the lack of options available. Owning a small business is already difficult, and when you combine it with my desire for perfection, lack of experience and a terrible economic environment it makes it even worse. Amai has not been able to get the money we need to grow, and it has forced me to make very difficult decisions. Most importantly, I have decided to close the store.
We have started telling customers this week, and many of them are very surprised. We often turn away customers because we don’t have enough seats, and there is a line to the door on the weekends. Unfortunately, the retail traffic is not enough, and we can’t get the financing we need to put our full business plan into place. I know my lack of experience as a business owner plays into this, but it is frustrating to have proved our concept and not be in a position to bring things to the next level.
I am incredibly sad about closing the store, but I know it is the right decision. I love the Amai customers and employees and I hate the thought of not seeing them every day. I am mostly sad because I want to make the best for the people who have supported us along the way, and by closing I am putting those dreams on hold. So many people have worked so hard to get us to this point, and I want to give them all that they deserve. I am also disappointed because I feel we have created something special, that people appreciate and want, but we can’t keep it going. Unfortunately, what my business needs is more than I can give, and the best decision is to close the store and take some time to reassess.
At this point, I don’t know what the future holds for Amai, or me. I love baking and the atmosphere of a cafe, but owning a small business may not suit my personality. I have no problem working hard and putting in long hours, but I value some separation between my personal and business life, and with this kind of a business it is not possible. I am getting married in September to Andrew, the main person who has kept me sane and happy throughout this journey, and I am looking forward to focusing on him and my family without the pressure of the business. I have also wanted to move back to California for some time, and closing the store allows me to do this. For the short-term, I will take a break from the long hours, get married, move to California and look into writing a cookbook. I have perfected many recipes in my time at Amai, and think I have some good ideas to share. I am also looking forward to eating baked goods that other people make, and having time to explore the world of sweets again.
Lovescool was created to document my journey of starting something new. I know that many others are trying to do the same thing, so I’ll do my best to share my experiences over the past few months in future posts. For now, I will focus on closing the store and spending time with my great staff and customers. If you are in New York City, please join us for some farewell specials or just stop in to say good-bye. Our last day will be on Sunday, April 19th.
Thank you to everyone for your continued support.