I don’t like to write this kind of story either. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The economy has been brutal to small businesses- and even local legends can disappear.
One of the hardest things in family businesses is succession planning. Not every generation wants to take over the family business or is ready. Bringing in outsiders can be a crap shoot. It’s really easy to armchair quarterback everything, I’m guilty of it- I say that Mike Sell’s lost its edge when they moved away from frying in peanut oil.
The reality is, Mike Sell’s is a Dayton institution, and it’s one worth saving. Although it may be too late. The business was up for sale and there weren’t any takers. Now, the bank’s taking it back. What they think they’ll get is a good question.
The Fed hasn’t been helping small business by hiking interest rates monthly. Instead of tackling price gouging, monopolies, fake supply chain issues, and doing the long overdue trust busting, they’ve just taken their wrath out on the majority of American’s who are living pay check to paycheck, have credit card debt, and rising food costs. Potato chips aren’t a necessity in your grocery cart- they’re an indulgence. Rising food costs are hard for smaller companies to adjust to.
Ideally, someone like Dorothy Lane Market, steps in and saves the day. They buy private label chips for their stores- and it’s not like they don’t have experience in making their own products, from bread to Killer Brownies. Or maybe Cassano’s? Or Esther Price (those chocolate covered chips are the bomb)
Yes, there has been a showdown brewing in the company for decades between unionized workers, the pension fund, and the way they ran their routes as “independent” businesses was probably not the best idea. And, it will be a challenge for the best turn-around consultant in the world to keep us in chips as the last guru made some unsustainable changes like growing routes to the point the drivers can’t make the stops. There was a move to put in a new line to make corn based products (think cheese puffs)- and supposedly the equipment is still sitting on the dock.
This isn’t a request for Government to step in and bail them out. Our tax dollars shouldn’t subsidize private enterprise. That’s picking winners and losers.
But, someone out there may have a few million burning a hole in their pocket and a love for Mike Sell’s chips. In the mean time, get to the store, the sandwich shop, the gas station and buy local- and eat’m while you can.
If you can buy them, do.
This was written Jan 31.
The news release was sent at noon today:
Iconic Local Snack Company Hopes to Leave Legacy As It Closes Its Doors
DAYTON, Ohio (February 1, 2023) – To continue to protect the Mikesell’s brand, so it can remain viable in the market and continue to move forward, Mikesell’s is announcing that it intends to transition all Mikesell’s brand and IP rights to another quality snack food manufacturer, as soon as possible. The exact timeline remains uncertain. Accordingly, Mike-Sell’s Inc. is beginning to wind-down its manufacturing, distribution, and administrative operations to proceed with an orderly liquidation of its assets. The liquidation of its assets will begin immediately and continue over the next several months.
Although the terms have not yet been finalized, we understand the desire to keep products available, and are working to facilitate the necessary conversations for approvals that will allow for an uninterrupted supply of Mikesell’s products.
“The Mikesell’s family and team wish to thank the community, consumers and partners for their love and support over the past 112+ years,” shares Luke Mapp, President of Mikesell’s. “Our family will long remember the fan love, the friendships and the wins along the way the most.”
The company’s HR team remains available to address employee concerns and questions, as well as to share any resources that are or may become available. Mikesell’s customers, vendors, and business partners have also been notified.