When the high street banks won’t play ball… Get Ratty!

The Globe Fowey

When he was rejected for by the banks in his quest to renovate The Globe, landlord Tony Goodman decided not to get mad… Instead he got Ratty! After seeing Jess (Marketing Manager, Crowdfunder) speak at an event in December Tony was inspired, and in just 5 days he crowdfunded his original £10,000 target.

Check out Tony’s great recount of his story.

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This week I am breaking my own rule about this column and talking about my business. Because this week I discovered two things. Banks are still absolutely useless self-serving insular beauraucratic vessels of patheticness and the people of Cornwall and indeed Britain are far more intelligent, supportive, and downright moral than any of the big banks that exist in this country for their own ends and no one else’s. And here’s why.

In March my business partner and I bought The Globe Posting House in Fowey. Over 500 years old, this historic building needed new life breathing into it and some serious TLC. We hit it hard for two weeks to be open for Easter and opened ironically on April 1st. In the last 8 months we have replaced every single item of everything on the ground floor. Cutlery, glasses, tables, chairs, plates, an entire commercial kitchen, plus a plethora of other things to make the restaurant a viable proposition. As a result we got in the Michelin Guide in our first year, something rarer than a Wainhomes planning decision being rejected, and also picked up a Hub award for creativity. The restaurants reputation is growing and now we need to focus on the guest rooms upstairs. But we have pumped every single penny we have earned back into the business and have no spare funds to carry out the work. So I did what most people in the country would do. I rang my bank.

I spent one hour and 13 minutes on the phone to Barclays. They asked me every question known to man about the business, including how long we had been trading for and when we opened. The questions were relentless as she left no stone unturned to make sure we were a viable proposition because £10,000 is a lot of money to a bank that took £100 billion off the taxpayer because they weren’t capable of running their own business properly. Then after 73 minutes of interrogation she said “I’m sorry we can’t proceed any further for two reasons”. “One, you have 3 months where you didn’t have any income”. “Are those months January, February and March?” I enquired. “Yes!” she said. That’s because we didn’t open till April!!!! But that didn’t matter to corporate world. We had no income for 3 months and for that reason they wouldn’t lend us money. And the other reason. “Your business has no credit history”. No love, that’s because we haven’t borrowed any money yet, and if your stupid policy was followed out across the world no one would ever have a history ever because no one would lend any money to anyone. So there you have it. Our wonderful banking system yet again not lending money to people for stupid reasons. So nothing has changed. But there is another way….

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A few weeks ago I went to the St Austell Chamber of Commerce Crunchy Breakfast meeting at Heligan. An extremely well attended event, one of the guest speakers was Jess Ratty, a local girl who now works for Crowdfunder. Within 30 seconds of her explaining how it worked, I was scribbling frantically about how it would work for me. A couple of phone calls and emails with Jess and I was on the crowdfunder site setting it all up. A quick 2 minute video and launch last Friday. And the result? £8000 in 3 days. Local people investing in a local business and getting handsomely rewarded for it. As people have said, it’s a win win. I will have, hopefully by the end of the week, the £10,000 I need to start. My customers, old and new, get to double their money and spend it in the restaurant. Not to mention the good publicity and exposure this has given me. Now I can employ local tradesmen to do the work, and buy the materials and equipment from local suppliers. Then I can invite people from all over the world to come and stay and spend their money in the local economy. And it’s all with absolutely no thanks to Barclays whatsoever.

With schemes like this and a bit of imagination we don’t need to be tied to the big banks any more. Entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t need to be corporately blackmailed into it either. But it shows what the banks have learned from the financial crisis. Absolutely nothing. Unfortunately we, the public, have learned one hell of a lot about them! So I will continue to keep it local, with local support, and the very best food and drink Cornwall has to offer and soon the best overnight stay to match.

As a postscript to this, I had a lady walk in on Saturday at 12.00pm and ask for a table of 16 at 1.30pm and they all wanted mussels. I knew I didn’t have that many mussels on site (it’s January!) but promised it would be ok. One phone call to Will Hancock at Fowey Sea Farms and a quick trip to the processing plant on the docks and within 15 minutes, I had 10kg of mussels for my customers who came in at 1.30 and had a wonderful time. And that one example shows why you need to keep it local and work with local people. Because I wouldn’t have got that service from Tesco.

Check out The Globe renovation project here.

 

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