By Cynthia Washicko
After more than four years in downtown Astoria, The Curious Caterpillar will get a new owner this March.
The sale of the shop is still pending while the buyer irons out the financing details, but current owner Stephanie Tichenor said she fully expects to finalize the agreement in early March.
Tichenor decided to sell after she realized she wasn’t able to devote the time and effort to the business that she wanted to, she said.
When she opened the store as a new mom, she assumed that as her son grew older and started kindergarten she’d have more time to devote to the store, Tichenor said, but that wasn’t the case. As a business owner, landlord for the building her store is in and a mother, she’s too busy to devote as much time to the shop and the community it serves, she said.
“I wanted the community to have somebody there who can be involved in the downtown stuff going on and manage the business properly,” Tichenor said.
Without enough business to hire on an employee who could make significant decisions for the store, Tichenor had to have a hand in every aspect of running The Curious Caterpillar, she said. That proved problematic, as her own life kept her too busy to carry out the function of owner as she would have liked to, she said.
“It needs to be owner operated and I didn’t feel that it was fair to my customers or to the brand to keep things going,” she said.
The new owner plans to keep an emphasis on books, Tichenor said, a major portion of the shop’s current business. Books make up around 75 percent of sales for The Curious Caterpillar, Tichenor said in a previous interview.
She started considering selling a couple of years ago, she said, but had trouble finding anyone interested or a listing agent willing to take on the job of selling the shop.
Originally she hoped to sell to her staff, but that plan never worked out, she said, so she started a search for real estate agents willing to help her sell the business. During the same time she tried to use word of mouth to advertise the sale, but neither method brought in prospective buyers.
After her efforts to sell the shop through realtors or by word of mouth proved fruitless, one of her employees suggested she advertise the sale on Facebook. She listed the sale online and with the Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce at the end of December and by New Year’s Day she had eight prospective buyers express significant interest in the business, she said.
Now, in a return to her career before she opened The Curious Caterpillar, Tichenor will start work again as the producer of a television cooking show, she said.
She’s glad to be handing the store over, Tichenor said, but the move isn’t without its mixed feelings.
“It does feel like (the store) was my other baby, and it is scary to pass it along,” she said.