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The District Fishwife Launches Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign, Hoping to Open at Union Market in about 3 Weeks

by Prince Of Petworth January 9, 2014 at 11:30 am 28 Comments

Next up in Indiegogo fundraising campaigns – The District Fishwife hoping to open in Union Market in about 3 weeks. From their Indiegogo page:

“The District Fishwife is Northeast DC’s first sustainable seafood market, opening at Union Market in NE DC at the end of January 2014. We will offer fresh and sustainably caught and raised seafood and prepared seafood for take-away, notably our own take on the classic Fish and Chips. Fiona Lewis is The Fishwife, and will be running the day-to-day operations of the shop. She brings a passion for seafood and the health of the world’s oceans, and a desire to educate customers to make more sustainable and healthy choices when they bring home seafood.

We’ve put everything we’ve got into this shop and we’re asking for your help now to get us to the finish line. Most of the equipment–cold room, display case, kitchen appliances, hood, etc.–is already purchased, and the build-out is almost complete, but we still need to have our equipment installed and put the finishing touches on the shop.

We are also committed to offering the best quality sustainable seafood available from Day One.In order to make sure we have the best fish we can find, we’ve brought on a local seafood expert as our fish buyer, Vernon Lingonfelter. Vernon knows good fish when he sees it, and we need to make sure he can pay for it on the spot.

So this is where you come in. We need about $20,000 to pay for these finishing touches and for working capital so Vernon can buy that top-quality sustainable fish when he sees it.

We’ve put together some fun perks to thank our funders, including shout-outs, magnets, beanies and caps, t-shirts, lunch for two, a one-on-one fish cutting class with Vernon, and a Feast of the Seven Fishes.”

You can read more and contribute here. Also watch the video above if you can, this place sounds awesome!

1309 5th Street, NE

  • So stoked for this fish market to finally open! I normally eschew these crowd sourced funding kind of things, but I’ll gladly hop on board with this one.

  • dcloafer

    I still can’t get my head around for-profit, private businesses straight-up asking people for money to start their businesses….and often getting it. I mean, good for them for having to find fewer real investors, but who is it that gives these people money?

    • People who want to see businesses come and succeed in their neighborhood. So many people on this site complain that “so and so isn’t coming to my neighborhood”, but when given the opportunity to help encourage it they do nothing. It’s akin to not voting and then complaining that the elected official who represents you does so poorly.

      • ams


      • dcloafer

        Like everybody else in the universe, I’ll “help encourage it” by patronizing businesses if they provide things that I want at a price I’m willing to pay. If there isn’t a big enough customer base for the business, no amount of indie-go-go-ing will make that business viable; if there is, then the business doesn’t have to resort to panhandling.

        That said, good for the business for taking advantage of this strange form of localism. But I’ll be donating my unwanted cash to charities, not to business owners, thank you.

        • Why so judgmental? Spend your money how you choose, you’re entirely entitled to do so (aside from taxes), but why lambaste others for helping the causes they see fit? A fish market that’s walkable / easily parkable in my area is entirely beneficial to me, so that donating a hundred dollars or so (when combined with other like-minded individuals) impacts me very little. And who’s to say that those of us who contribute don’t also give to charity as well? That’s rather presumptuous of you.

        • Truxton Thomas

          Not only do donors contribute to the formation of the business, whose existence might benefit them and others, they also get tangible rewards, such as discounts or product samples. It is an exchange, not panhandling.

          And this is about raising startup capital. If they can raise it from future patrons to launch a business they believe will be successful long-term, they don’t have to take out a bank loan and pay interest rates that could jeopardize their future cashflow.

          • “Not only do donors contribute to the formation of the business [. . .], they also get tangible rewards, such as discounts or product samples.”
            Not always — it varies from one fundraising effort to the next.

          • Truxton Thomas

            Generally, the model involves a reward of some kind. Whether it’s a shout out on Twitter or a future discount or whatever varies, yes.

    • Anonymous

      I can understand the requests because it’s certainly worth asking if there’s a good chance of the strategy paying off. And I can understand the support from people who are eager for particular types of business, particularly if the businesses will be located in their neighborhoods. What I’m not clear about is the reasoning of the business….Is this poor financial planning on the part of the business owners or is crowdsourcing actually a part of their business plans? Are there fees and expenses that, for some reason, are difficult to anticipate– particularly in DC?

      • Biscuits

        The number of people commenting here that don’t understand the benefit of investing in small businesses is really disheartening.

        Have you been to the bank recently as a small business owner? Chances are, the answer is no. While the economy is improving, banks are still reticent to lend. This includes lending to high-quality businesses who are new to market, but often lack the business credit history for a substantial loan. Permitting alone is unbelievably expensive and is often delayed because, you know, DC Government. If a project is delayed due to DCRA or OTR dragging their feet…that’s lost money for a new business every day they’re not open.

        Also, anyone with any history of dealing with construction in their lives should know that there are often lots of unexpected costs associated with building something new. This can be anything from shoddy estimates from contractors for materials, or uncovering unexpected problems along the way. So, yes, there are unexpected costs…always

        Part of building a community that has fantastic, community-oriented small businesses in it is being a person who is community oriented and supports small business. Giving $20 to a worthy small business isn’t going to put a serious dent in your lifestyle, if you can afford it, but it means so much to the entrepreneurs who are simply asking for a little help in the final push to start or open their business. You’re investing in a business that plans to reinvest in your neighborhood, which to me is money well spent.

        • Anonymous

          I’m sorry that you’re “disheartened” by my genuine request for information — although I appreciate the information that you did provide. I understand the concept of unexpected costs — most of us, even those of us who are not small business owners, have them all the time. I’m assuming that as one develops a business plan — the same way that one develops any kind of budget — one tries to account for unexpected expenses. I did wonder if this is, for some reason, more of a problem in DC than in other cities.
          I think we understand the term “investment” somewhat differently. And you certainly have no idea whether or not $20 would put a serious dent in my lifestyle. In any case, I agree that for someone in the neighborhood who is likely to patronize a particular business, a donation — rather than an “investment”, which might be expected to produce some return — could be money well spent.

        • Anonymous

          This isn’t investing in a small business. It’s giving money to a small business with no expectation of a return on your money other than the business existing for you to further support with purchases. There isn’t anything wrong with helping businesses you want to succeed in your neighborhood – or in general. However, I do think it’s a valid question as to why people would want to give money to an eneterprise that wants to run as a for profit business without those people getting a return on that money. Nothing at all disheartenng about that.

          It’s basically charity for a cause you support even though the cause is somewhat different than what we normally consider worthy of charitable donations.

          • Well that’s because you’re only considering “return on investment” as actual monetary capital. For others there are different tangible returns.

    • pcat

      I would be happy to invest in a restaurant if I got something for my money, but i am worried that a restaurant that needs “crowd sourced funding” doesn’t have the management or the backing to be successful. I’ll donate my money to a charity.

      • kken

        AFAIK, it’s not a restaurant per say but a fish market that will have some ready made foods. With the way DCRA and doing business in DC is, I would not be surprised if something totally unexpected in costs came up. I don’t think turning to crowd sourcing necessarily means the management doesn’t have (other than some money) what it takes to be successful. I’ve supported both Mothership and La Mano Coffee, both who turned to crowdsourcing for some last minute costs coverage (Mothership = a/c unit, La Mano = pepco bill) to open up and both are pretty successful (I think) these days.

    • Biscuits

      Maybe they want to own their business instead of selling off pieces to investors? Just a thought.

      • Anon 12:25 and 2:01

        It’s hard to have it both ways. If they want to own their own business instead of selling off pieces to investors, I can certainly understand that. Then call it what it is: requesting donations from people who are likely to appreciate, patronize, and benefit from having the business in their neighborhood. — Which is a little different from an inability to “understand the benefit from investing in small businesses.”

        • Anon 12:25 and 2:01

          Addendum: again my question was really about the reasoning behind crowdsourcing for a for-profit business, not the value of a particular business. Is it usually part of a business plan? Something that happens because of unanticipated expenses? Something people do now because it’s trendy and effective — even though it was not part of their original business plan?

          • If I had to guess, I would say the latter. I can’t imagine many business plans that explicitly rely on non-guaranteed starter money getting approved.

          • Truxton Thomas

            It’s an alternative to seeking angel investments or bank loans. Effective crowdfunders have defined goals and a sound business plans—both of which are important to raising money from the crowd. The Internet and the growth of online crowdfunding sites have made it more widely available, and it’s only going to keep growing.

  • ams

    Like I said on the Dino IndieGoGo post:
    “They’re embracing a fundraising model in a time where LivingSocial, Kickstarter and IndieGoGo can easily provide mutually beneficial deals between companies and their clients. Give them a break, and embrace the future. Dino coupons ftw!”

    Or in this case, Fish coupons ftw!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve no idea how she’ll fare, but she’s picked the best by involving Vernon with whom I’ve had many conversations at various farmers markets. The guys knows everything there is to know.

    All the best to Fish Wife.

    • Crabby

      I wholeheartedly agree. Vernon’s a little crazy and, as another friend once said to me – you WANT your fishmonger to be crazy, OCD and totally obsessed with his (or her) product. There is no one in DC who comes even close to Vernon for his quality and dedication to seafood.

    • Considering that he consulted for Woodberry Kitchen, probably the best restaurant in Baltimore (with a nod to “Charleston” as well), I would be inclined to agree with you on that aspect.

      • Anonymous

        What about Black Olive? I usually put that 2nd after Charleston, but I haven’t been to Woodberry Kitchen.

        • I’ve not been to Black Olive. I would put WBK up against almost any DC restaurant in terms of quality though.

  • Anonymous

    Who wants to contribute to the crowdsourcing for the down payment for my first-time buyer apartment?
    I’ll be a great neighbor! Feel free to ask to borrow a cup of sugar or a few eggs! You’ll get an invite to my housewarming (pls bring a bottle of wine to share – thx)!


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