Author Topic: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business  (Read 6608 times)

Conan

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Fernando's is a sandwich shop with two locations in Downtown Pittsburgh. One of these locations happens to be within walking distance (well, both are within walking distance if you're not lazy) of the Anthrocon convention center.The restaurant has pandered to furries for a number of years now, changing signage to read "Furnandos" and offering specials to con-goers.

Last May, local television station KDKA featured the restaurant and it's owner in a semi-inspirational piece that covered his history, his previous failure opening a sandwich shop, and the landlord that took a chance and let him rent his current location even when he had little collateral and couldn't prove he could pay the lease. Some called him a "Pittsburgh success story".

Unfortunately, the success seems to have run out. It looks like people who spend the other 360 days of the year in Pittsburgh didn't think the restaurant was all that great. They have only racked up 374 Foursquare checkins among 189 people. The most recent "tips" left on their page were from Anthrocon 2011. Yelp reviewers give it three and a half stars. I've never been to Fernando's but judging by things around the internet, it looks like it was considered "average" among locals.

Fernando's debt began piling up. Back in March it was announced that the restaurant would be closing well before Anthrocon. Kage began organizing a small gathering to visit the restaurant one last time, and offered to collect donations/an "extended tipjar" to help Fernando with the debt after the restaurant closes.

Except these are furries. And an open tipjar is an invitation to shove large wads of cash into it. The fandom turned the "extended tipjar" into a drive to donate enough money to keep the restaurant open until June, and once that goal started nearing, it became a drive to completely eliminate the debt. Fandom Celebrity 2gryphon posted a journal on FA mentioning that if $700 more can be donated, the restaurant will be open for Anthrocon. Another person tweeted that if $10,000 more is donated, they'll be open next year and "possibly forever". 2 eventually got on board with this number and offered to do a "secret show" should the $10,000 mark be reached.

The sad thing is, it's working. In less than two hours the donation drive raised $1,300 and broke the $5,000 mark. Another hour brought in another $700.

I can't wait for the eventual media coverage, and how they figure out the best way to say "Hundreds of internet people donate money to keep business open."

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2012, 08:54:28 pm »
2 is awful but

this is pretty nice and well-intentioned? I'm not seeing why anyone should be tut-tutting this.

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 12:05:08 am »
I guess it's more that the place blatantly only survives due to the influx of awful people going to Anthrocon and barely squeezes by on loans and short-term trade-offs the rest of the year. I imagine some people would rather see the guy attach himself to a larger more fiscally stable chain which can afford to swallow his existing debts and deal with a relatively low turnout when Anthrocon isn't in heat than see furries keeping up a mediocre independent sandwich shop through donations and handouts.

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 07:41:45 am »
It's a nice and well-intentioned PR stunt by a pair of career furries. I think that's enough to go 'tut tut' over.
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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 07:52:22 am »
PR's Bad.

Conan

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2012, 01:15:18 pm »
I guess it's more that the place blatantly only survives due to the influx of awful people going to Anthrocon and barely squeezes by on loans and short-term trade-offs the rest of the year. I imagine some people would rather see the guy attach himself to a larger more fiscally stable chain which can afford to swallow his existing debts and deal with a relatively low turnout when Anthrocon isn't in heat than see furries keeping up a mediocre independent sandwich shop through donations and handouts.

Pretty much this.

If the locals aren't frequenting it enough to keep it afloat, we're just going to end up right back here in a year or so. The guy already had one sandwich shop fail, maybe he's just not a good businessman.

In the end, this whole thing reeks of "publicity stunt".

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2012, 01:23:09 pm »
But no cries for compassion when Steel City Diner, another solidly mediocre convention staple, went under?  If only they could have made a furmanteau of their name.

Will we be doing this every year?
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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2012, 09:05:39 pm »
When there's no porn worth throwing their money at, they'll find some other, more efficient way of wasting it all.

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2012, 09:22:19 pm »
When there's no porn worth throwing their money at, they'll find some other, more efficient way of wasting it all.

A fool and his money, right?

I have to feel bad for the guy, I mean the economy has been particularly hard on small, independent businesses. But I don't see the point of donating money to the sandwich shop just to make sure it stays there. There is no guarantee that it will, or that the food will be any good. Odds are, debt paid off he'll be back to zero and therefore unable to really invest much in his product. I'm involved with commercial real estate and I've seen many businesses come and go. When people start having problems like this, it's usually a bad sign, something has changed for them, where they simply aren't able to make ends meet and won't be able to turn that around for a very long time. Maybe restaurants just aren't a viable business in downtown Pittsburg. I hope things work out for him but I'm not optimistic.

What's with Pittsburg anyway? I've not been there but it seems like a dying city, a has-been, dead-end, washed-up kind of town. I would think it's a terrible place for a major con- everything closes early, it's not a major metro area, there are few international flights to Pittsburg, and there few tourist attractions in the area outside of the con.

Conan

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2012, 11:11:38 pm »
What's with Pittsburg anyway? I've not been there but it seems like a dying city, a has-been, dead-end, washed-up kind of town. I would think it's a terrible place for a major con- everything closes early, it's not a major metro area, there are few international flights to Pittsburg, and there few tourist attractions in the area outside of the con.

They were in Philadelphia, which seems like a much more logical choice. Everything's close to Philadelphia. But the hotel they were in was demolished and I guess they decided the only thing left to do was find another hotel move to Pittsburgh.

I don't really expect them to stay in Pittsburgh much longer, unless they're willing to let attendance stagnate. In recent years, they've completely run out of hotel space, and it seems that Pittsburgh has run out of space for hotels. There's apparently only 13 hotels within 20 minutes of the convention center, and only three are nearby. Compare that to, say, the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, there are 9 hotels across the street. The PA Convention Center can't be insanely expensive to rent, judging by the events calendar: It's hosting exciting events like a Yu Gi Oh Regional Tournament and a Magic the Gathering Tournament.

It would be hilarious if they do this huge donation drive to keep the guy "open forever" then announce they're moving to Philadelphia.

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2012, 07:58:52 am »
~Fun facts~ time from PT and his ~inside source~

In reference to the recent VivCrew tweet, yes, they've raised more than double the 2009 AC charity donation for a fucking sandwich shop.  If I recall correctly, 2009 was also the year the charity auction was so poorly run that the con itself had to cough up enough money to double what little amount was actually brought in to keep from embarrassing themselves with the charity.  This more or less validates what I said earlier - when there's no 'furry' crap to waste their money on, they'll throw it down some other pit.

The reason the con moved from Philly to Pitt was operating expenditures, pure and simple.  The PA Convention Center may be huge and centrally located, but it's a union shop, and according to Doc Conway, contracts there include the stipulation that union members must be involved in everything from loading/unloading equipment, to setting up tables and chairs, to wiring up cameras and screens and audio.  At the prevailing hourly wage, of course.  It would more or less put the kibosh on the con's volunteer program, and increase their operating costs exponentially.

Granted that then begs the question of why not move to another sizable city within driving distance of Philly?  Conway moved it there from Albany to be closer to home, after all.  There aren't really any other cities of note in PA, but Baltimore, NYC, and the entire state of New Jersey are closer to Philly than Pittsburgh is.

Also what would be truly hilarious is if they hand all this cash over to the restaurant owner, he says "Wow thanks this'll take care of all my debts!", and closes anyway.

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2012, 10:45:26 am »
To be fair, 2009 was the year right after the recession hit, which would easily explain why no one was feeling very charitable that year (although attendance did manage to grow somehow, so I don't even know). Additionally, the amount of furries that have visited Fernando's in their lifetime is probably somewhere between 5000 and 6000, since not everyone who's been to AC is able to make it every year. Regardless though, this is an awful lot of money to pour into a business that likely can't sustain itself past next year. Of course, Kage only wanted to raise enough to keep him open until Anthrocon, so I guess you can argue he wasn't looking for everyone to just keep funneling donations in so they can stay open forever.

Still though, it does raise the question of whether furries care more about restaurants that pander to them (that are also very close-by) than charities to save animals.

Jim Demintia

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2012, 11:37:30 am »
Pittsburgh is not only rust-belt, but it is on the edge of Appalachia - a stones-throw from West Virginia. Appalachia not only has been hard-hit by the economy, but they never really got to take part in the "Good Times" that America had (RIP 1945-1980). We were trying to rectify that, with things like the Appalachian Development Corridor - building up an Interstate-class highway system with some of the most expensive per mile costs in the country - but times have changed, and merciless resource extraction continues in that region unabated (once it was coal, now it's shale gas).

Ahem. PT is right about the cost thing - closed-shop stipulations notwithstanding costs tend to be lower in these dying urban centers from the midwest to upstate New York. Philly - or its immediate suburbs anyway - are pretty urbane, a sort of NYC-lite, and it has the high cost averages that come with a constituency of self-centered upper middle class white people.

I am really not sure where they would go that would make "more" "sense" than Pittsburgh. They could go somewhere similar, but there are a slew of downsides - it seems they've largely been able to keep the whole "trouble with the hotel" thing from getting out of control, but if they were to move shop and go somewhere else, who knows what would happen in that department.

And for what its worth, I have seen derivative tweets about Kage journal(s) saying that, at least now, he is claiming that Fernandos may just pay down their debts and close anyway - that they knew this all along.
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Conan

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2012, 12:55:30 pm »
To be fair, 2009 was the year right after the recession hit, which would easily explain why no one was feeling very charitable that year (although attendance did manage to grow somehow, so I don't even know). Additionally, the amount of furries that have visited Fernando's in their lifetime is probably somewhere between 5000 and 6000, since not everyone who's been to AC is able to make it every year. Regardless though, this is an awful lot of money to pour into a business that likely can't sustain itself past next year. Of course, Kage only wanted to raise enough to keep him open until Anthrocon, so I guess you can argue he wasn't looking for everyone to just keep funneling donations in so they can stay open forever.

Still though, it does raise the question of whether furries care more about restaurants that pander to them (that are also very close-by) than charities to save animals.

Still, the next two years still don't come close. 2010 they raised $12,849 for a no-kill animal shelter. Last year the ToonSeum (a poor choice of charities compared to the other years, but I digress...) recieved $11,522. And you can't tell me the economy got that much better in the past 10 months.

The whole "raising more than they've donated to charity" thing just shows how sad and materialistic the fandom is. Sandwiches deserve more money than the animal rescue? What?

Jim Demintia

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2012, 03:43:32 pm »
The whole "raising more than they've donated to charity" thing just shows how sad and materialistic the fandom is. Sandwiches deserve more money than the animal rescue? What?

I'm not sure that's the way to look at it. The charity is something they do every year, and I'd imagine it amounts to background noise for most congoers. This whole...thing has benefited from propagation through FA journals and Twitter accounts. There are several extremely popular individuals who are flogging this thing on their journals and Twitter accounts. And especially on Twitter, when one of these folks says something like this, it gets re-tweeted and spread very quickly. And besides, to be a stickler for semantics, this is "charity" in a sense, although it's not the "social improvement" sense of charity that is associated with animal shelters and such.

I think maybe a more useful question to ask is how much money this is in comparison to Kage's previous PR stunt charity-journals. And whatever the case may be, to be perfectly honest this latest appeal on the part of Doc Conway isn't terribly interesting at this point. When we get a better idea of what Fernando's is going to do, or hear what they actually do, I suppose that will change.

Or where the money's going, who has the account or whatever. But I can't imagine we're going to get that information anytime soon.
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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2012, 09:49:22 am »
Ahem. PT is right about the cost thing - closed-shop stipulations notwithstanding costs tend to be lower in these dying urban centers from the midwest to upstate New York. Philly - or its immediate suburbs anyway - are pretty urbane, a sort of NYC-lite, and it has the high cost averages that come with a constituency of self-centered upper middle class white people.

I am really not sure where they would go that would make "more" "sense" than Pittsburgh. They could go somewhere similar, but there are a slew of downsides - it seems they've largely been able to keep the whole "trouble with the hotel" thing from getting out of control, but if they were to move shop and go somewhere else, who knows what would happen in that department.

What would make sense is if they relocated to a major metro area, not another Pittsburg. Preferably, this would be somewhere with an international airport, a true tourist destination on the national and international level and probably somewhere without an existing fur con. Places that come to mind include the greater NYC area, metro D.C., Dallas, Miami, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, Los Angeles and last but not least, Las Vegas.  8)

Hosting Anthrocon in a smaller regional city might have made sense when it was a smaller local event but with the event basically selling out all available hotel space in the area, attendance is going to stagnate unless they can put Anthrocon somewhere that can reasonably accommodate 10,000 people. 10,000 attendees isn't far fetched considering how fast they reached ~5,000 attendees and with those kind of numbers, they ought to be able to afford a world class venue. And if they put the con somewhere else, more people would be willing to go. I can justify taking a week off to go to say, Seattle or the Bay Area and including FC or Rainfurrest but to travel across the country just for a furry con, no thanks, especially not to somewhere like Pittsburg where from what I've read, options for dining and entertainment are limited, especially after dark. Sorry, furry just isn't that important to me. I guess I'm not one of those furries that flies across the country just to hang out in the lobby of a hotel for the weekend.

Conan

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2012, 01:25:01 pm »
Apparently the list of nearby restaurants that have closed recently keeps growing, another restaurant (Cory's) was discovered to be closed earlier. This brings the total up to, what, six restaurants in the area? (elsewhere, the tally stands at a coffee shop, Big Mama's, Steel City Diner, and two Chinese restaurants)

Also, some of the more notorious furries continue to spread some untrue story that Fernando was hit in the head with a brick thrown by "anti furries". This is false, according to a journal Kage wrote after the event. Apparently "crazy homeless person" and "Anti furries" are the same thing now.

Jim Demintia

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2012, 03:56:21 pm »
Apparently the list of nearby restaurants that have closed recently keeps growing, another restaurant (Cory's) was discovered to be closed earlier. This brings the total up to, what, six restaurants in the area? (elsewhere, the tally stands at a coffee shop, Big Mama's, Steel City Diner, and two Chinese restaurants)

They are in the restaurant business as independent operators in a bad economy in a dying city whose economic engine will never, ever return. The notable thing here is that there isn't more churn than there already is.

A lot of times these guys can get government help - whether it be a guaranteed loan, an interest subsidy, or some kind of favorable tax terms - to start a new, local business. At some point the government help runs out (it's meant to stimulate locally-originated economic activity) - and these guys have to make it on their own. They often don't.

10,000 attendees isn't far fetched considering how fast they reached ~5,000 attendees and with those kind of numbers, they ought to be able to afford a world class venue.

I'm sure that Kage and crew are well aware of the constraints on their growth at this point. The question is, whatever their options are to move forward, are any of them feasible? I have heard that Anthrocon makes money, but just barely. Any move is going to entail an increase in costs. Some costs will be one-time, but not all.

There's no way they're gonna be able to increase membership prices, even by a little. I think it's just as possible that they may find themselves stuck, and attendance will stagnate, and maybe, after a decade-plus, some other convention will be the hot new shit.
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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2012, 11:19:20 pm »
Regarding comparative charity figures: Anthrocon is a 501(c)(7) social club. Its primary purpose is to run a convention so people can have fun looking at cartoon animals. Sure, it's nice when a little money is raised for real-life animals, but that's as far as it goes. Charities are, ultimately, not members of the club.

As a registered non-profit, Anthrocon's finances are (almost) an open book, just one you can't read until nine months after the convention. WikiFur has summaries; if you want the details, go to Form 990.

AC's per-person expenses and revenue jumped after moving to Pittsburgh, but have remained roughly constant since then. Membership fees have largely increased at the supersponsor level, but all classes increased $10 over the past two years, and at-door basic reg is $60 this year as well. I haven't seen too much complaining. Will be interesting to see what the effect is this year.

My take: AC manages its budget as well as any other furry con, and probably better than some; it has relatively consistent costs, and getting the services of a convention centre for $15/person is a bargain in my book. I guess one reasonable question is why travel and expenses for guest speakers cost $13,000 last year - it looks like it was half of that in 2010 (though that might just be travel). Big families? Big bar tab?

Oh, and predictably, it made the news.

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Re: 2gryphon and Kage want you to donate your money to failing business
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2012, 11:43:28 pm »
words

Do you have anything relevant to add to the conversation hidden away in there?
What if the pentagon has stored lost data of porn and yiff in it's data, has anyone over there saved about millions of porn data and art in it's computer drive? tell me more about the facts what they have in your opinions!