Sometimes you have to spend $5,000 to save $100,000

Sometimes you have to spend $5,000 to save $100,000

A story of losing a little, learning a lot, and in the end, listening to my gut.

By: Becca Jordan Wright, Founder/Owner at Piedmont Pennies


Today, I'm grieving the lost time (or found wisdom?) that was January - March of 2024. This season will be forever known as, "The Charlotte Winter I learned commercial Real Estate."

At Piedmont Pennies we bake, pack, and ship our gourmet cheese crackers (my Grandbetty's recipe turned MBA class project during COVID, more on that another time) from two leased facilities in Charlotte, NC (commercial kitchen + warehouse 10 minutes away).

Unlike most food companies, we manufacture in-house, which has it's pros and cons...

In the last year, we outgrew our commercial kitchen, and began renting warehouse space for inventory storage and shipping. Obviously the trek isn't ideal, and my 2024 goal was to find an all-in-one commercial kitchen and warehouse, so our team could work together in harmony. 

2024 goal: Find the right space for our growing bakery, that we can afford, is in a safe area, an relatively short commute (relative being the keyword. In Charlotte, the traffic is manageable, but finicky. Sometimes I think about the time I saved growing up in Burlington NOT sitting in daily traffic... Again, tradeoffs!)

Since January 2024, each week, for 12 weeks, I scanned LoopNet, pestered my Broker, toured buildings, read leases, and wore the hat of Vice President of Real Estate & Operations at Piedmont Pennies.

Time after time, spaces fell through. Too small. Too large. Too far. Too expensive. No floor drains. No lift gate. No bakers allowed...

27 properties later, our all-in-one kitchen, office and distribution center idea looked bleak.

Out of no where, my broker found a space off market. A former commercial kitchen of all things! God is (and was) good! 

We visited immediately. We walked the halls measuring and planning, I could see my vision coming to life - more space for ovens where we could increase production, an inventory room where we could store product, and a team break where we'd celebrate birthday's and laugh alongside one another during lunchbreaks. I was in!

Then, the negotiations began.

In the Charlotte real estate market (both residential and industrial), it's competitive. Majority of industrial spaces are investor-owned (not independent mom-and-pop), with asset managers that reside outside of the area and strict leasing policies that are standard across their portfolio. 

Little did I know, commercial landlords could care less about a 7,000 sq foot tenant, much less a small business bakery... They were not willing to negotiate, and in fact, were terribly rude in their comments.

We "red-lined" the lease, back and forth between my lawyers and theirs for weeks. I felt small. Unimportant. 

Despite coming to an agreement (or succumbing to their requirements?) on some things, it started to feel icky.

I couldn't explain it to you if I tried. The best I can do is say it was a visceral gut feeling. The entire deal then felt wrong.

I'm a Christian, and the longer I've been in the small business world, the closer I've leaned on my relationship with God. He was sending me a sign, my uneasiness with the whole deal, and I had to listen.

In my mind, I decided to back out of the deal, trying to think about everything but the sunk costs (time, energy, money, pride, reputation).

That was the easy part.

The hardest part was the disappointing string of phone calls to make after it.

1. To my lawyer - Who understood and agreed with the decision. He gave me wise counsel the entire process and I was appreciative of his support and friendship. Plus, lawyers get paid regardless of the deal closing... Ok, phew, one phone call down.

2. To my Broker -  Who had been nothing but patient and supportive for 6+ months and would now earn zero commission for his efforts. While disappointed, he understood. Ek, two phone calls down.

3. My used equipment salesman - The one I gave a deposit to for two commercial ovens for the new space... Since I had to have them upon move-in to be permitted in time... But now had no space for them. He understood and in fact, agreed to refund my deposit in full AND referenced scripture. He then admitted to a time he was growing his business too fast, and his wife gave wise counsel against it.

The scariest phone call to make turned out to be the most fruitful. If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plan, or your even your worries... 


So, as I stroked my Beef 'N Bottle pin and wrote a check to my lawyer (remember, lawyers always get paid), I thought to myself, sometimes, you have to spend $5,000 to save $100,000.



Stay Cheesin,



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