Port Townsend's Quimper Mercantile loses money in first year — but not as much as expected
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Dottie Nelson “models” some of the puzzles available at the Quimper Mercantile Co. in Port Townsend at a stockholders meeting Wednesday night.
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Quimper Mercantile Co. CEO Peter Quinn, left, and Chief Financial Officer Marty Gay address a stockholders meeting Wednesday night.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Quimper Mercantile Co. lost money during its first full year of operation, but the losses weren't as high as projected, according to material presented to public stockholders at Wednesday night meeting.

“We operated at a negative balance of $87,817 and had predicted we'd lose around $130,000,” Chief Financial Officer Marty Gay told a group of about 100 people at the store at 1121 Water St.

“Even if a loss was expected, we don't want to keep doing this, and we are on track to do better,” Gay assured stockholders.

The meeting included a presentation of financial data along with a discussion of inventory, while sales employees passed out samples of locally produced food and modeled some of the wares offered in the store.

The business collected $1,099,596 in sales, with subtractions for $69,548 in discounts, $587,663 in merchandise costs and $548,899 in expenses.

An $18,697 recovery of tax loss yielded the $87,817 figure.

Swain's Outdoor closed in early 2011 after having operated in Port Townsend since 1996.

QMC, which aimed to fill a gap in consumer offerings in Port Townsend, opened in October 2012 in the 15,000-square-foot space that once housed Swain's.

Since then, the store has expanded into an unused portion of the space. A 1,200-square-foot portion, which could hold a restaurant or other independent business, is still available.

Peter Quinn, Quimper Mercantile CEO, said the store has made a difference for all downtown businesses.

“Imagine what it would be like right now if this still was an empty space,” he said.

“We wouldn't have 200 cars a day coming into downtown, and we'd have a big old empty 15,000-square-foot building, which wouldn't do anyone any good.”

Store manager Sheldon Spencer said the store handles 70 to 80 transactions per day. The average amount of the transactions is between $30 and $40.

After closing the public stock offering in January, the company accumulated $681,150 in stock sales from 810 stockholders: $49,850 in founder shares and $631,300 in general shares.

Money from sales of shares is the equity of the company, not income, Quinn explained.

While not a dividend, each of the stockholders will receive a card providing a 5 percent discount on every sale.

“This is something we wanted to do in order to thank everyone who has made a commitment to us,” Quinn said.

“We wanted to give back to the people who did business with us and make sure you guys were rewarded better than the average Jefferson County resident.”

The 5 percent discount also is available to residents of Jefferson, Clallam and Island counties who are not shareholders and spend $100 over a one-year period.

“We have a lot of people come in from Whidbey and Clallam, so we wanted to make sure people had a reason to come here and try us out,” Quinn said.

Initial restrictions forbade ownership of the stock to anyone outside of Washington state.

That restriction no longer exists, and stockholders can sell their shares to anyone they choose.

The sale of stock differs from broker-driven transactions. The store serves as a referral service between buyers and sellers.

The store matches the two parties, which then negotiate a price and complete the transaction, although the sale price of the stock will be reported and used to determine the stock's value.

“This is a little different,” Quinn said of the process.

“We like to say that we aren't a normal anything, so the way we sell our shares is not normal.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 20. 2014 7:16PM
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