From a very interesting (and very long) article from Courtney Rubin about the decline of Ample Hills, a really good ice cream shop that has a location here in Astoria:
But on March 15, the day before New York City shut down for the pandemic — and as signage bearing Ample Hills’ farm animal mascots and the words “ice cream coming soon” was still up at a second Disney location — everything came crashing down. Ample Hills filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, just short of the company’s 10th anniversary. It had nothing to do with the pandemic: Even as annual sales had grown, reaching nearly $10.7 million at their peak, so had the losses. Over 2018 and 2019, the company lost about $13 million. In June 2020, Ample Hills sold for just $1 million to perhaps the unlikeliest of buyers — Schmitt, an Oregon manufacturing company that makes laser scanners and sensors for propane tanks.
I didn’t know things went down like this. Sounds like a complete mess:
According to employees, Smith and Cuscuna would fall in love with the story they could tell about a location and sign a lease without due diligence. For example, they liked Prospect Park West because 100 years earlier it had been an ice cream shop; plus their original location was a cart in Prospect Park. Meanwhile, the rent was roughly $220,000 a year, with a projected $500,000 buildout. “There was no true P&L done on anything,” says Chuck Green, the former vice president of sales at Ben & Jerry’s who helped negotiate its sale to Unilever in 2000. (Green lasted just a few months at Ample Hills in 2018 as COO before being fired by Smith, and has since been rehired by Schmitt.)