Customers Pitch In To Save Business Almost Ruined By Ill-Advised Groupon Deal

Since Groupon launched, we’ve written a handful of stories about businesses — like the bakery that claimed $19,500 in losses and the cafe owner who called it the “single worst decision” she’d ever made — that said they took on huge amounts of red ink when they were overwhelmed by bargain-hunting shoppers who only wanted the discount. Well, here’s a story that’s slightly different, in that the shop’s regular customers have come to the rescue to save the sinking business.

Food for All Market is a Philadelphia-area shop that carries products for people allergic to everything from soy to wheat gluten to nuts.

Last summer, a Groupon rep contacted the store’s owner and sold them on a Groupon that would give the buyer $30 worth of stuff for $15. The owner tells the Philadelphia Inquirer she thought it would be a good way to introduce the store to new customers.

Which it did. Unfortunately, a lot of those shoppers came for just whatever they could get with the Groupon and didn’t spend any extra.

Making matters worse, the owner claims that the Groupon rep never told her she could cap the number of discounts that were sold. This is a complaint we’ve heard before from other businesses who felt burned by Groupon.

In the end, the owner estimates she took on about $10,000 in losses from the Groupon deal, which appeared to be too big of a hole for her to climb out of.

So when it looked like Food for All was going to become just a memory, the owner posted a notice to her meager list of around 500 e-mail addresses, 400 Twitter followers and 450 Facebook likes.

The response was a pleasant surprise, the owner tells the Inquirer: “About two dozen customers have basically made me low-interest loans, so that we can restructure our loans, restock, and move forward.”

Additionally, a number of customers have volunteered their time to help Food for All cut down on overhead while the store recovers. One customer with celiac disease has volunteered their services as financial adviser.

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