RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – Jeff Konchalski’s customers at Nature’s Temptations in Ridgefield have been asking him for a few years to build a deck outside his store at 32 Prospect St. With a little help, Konchalski is hoping he can grant that request this summer.
Nature’s Temptations is a 6,000-square-foot food market that features local, organic and sustainable produce, groceries and supplements. It has a juice bar and café, and the store’s deli provides sandwiches, soups and prepared foods.
Konchalski obtained the approval and had plans developed to provide exterior seating. “Part of being healthy is being outside,’’ he said. “We have a small indoor dining space where we serve delicious, healthy food. But our customers were clamoring for more space.”
The problem Konchalski ran into is financing. He could not get a bank to commit to a loan, which is needed to have a deck built. So he has created an online fund-raising page through Indiegogo and is seeking community support to help get the funds necessary to build the outdoor dining area.
“People still don’t know what is inside the building that we’re in,’’ Konchalski said. “The outside of the market does not lend itself to retail. I have people come in all the time and say to me ‘I had no idea that this is a full- service food market.’”
Konchalski started the business 19 years ago and was selling organic, fresh and local products long before it became a popular trend. “When we were building the plans for this location, we never dreamed that the need for seating would be so great. It just kind of evolved.”
With banks reluctant to loan to small businesses, Konchalski developed the Indiegogo campaign to have people contribute toward the deck.
“The last few years in this economy have been tough,’’ he said. “If we were showing mega profits, we’d have no trouble getting a loan. But if we were making big profits, I wouldn’t need a loan. We’re hoping that as an established small business, people will feel it’s important to support their local stores and the local economy.”
Konchalski is hopeful of having the funding within two months and perhaps have the deck built in late August. His customers already enjoy Nature’s Temptations offerings and would then have the option of eating outside on the deck. There is a video on YouTube describing the store and its objectives.
“The deck would drastically improve the curb appeal for our market and attract people who haven’t heard of us yet,’’ he said. “We strongly feel that we are an asset to the community and want to offer our customers a great location to enjoy a healthy meal outside.”
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