By Keith Lawrence Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
Maria Kelly opened Nona's Downtown Market at 126 E. Second St. six months ago.
But she says business has been so good that she needs to expand with more equipment.
So she's turning to Kickstarter -- a 5-year-old Internet-based company that allows people to contribute as little as $1 and as much as they want to projects they like -- to try to raise $75,000 by Nov. 12.
Kickstarter says it has raised more than $1 billion in pledges from nearly 6 million donors to fund more than 135,000 projects, including movies, music, stage shows, comics, video games and food-related ideas.
Kelly wrote on her Kickstarter page that Nona's needs "a certified kitchen, new pottery kiln, cold press juicer and extra refrigeration."
"We are wanting to add pre-bottled juices and a deli section to the market," she wrote. "The kitchen will also be open to local bakers and small business caterers for use. This would allow us to provide packaged food for downtown lunches and items for the thriving downtown workforce. We are also working to create programs for our local schools to involve children in the arts and educate them in health."
Kelly said there are a lot of local entrepreneurs who want to make food products but can't afford a commercial kitchen of their own.
"So many small businesses are right at the edge" of success, she said.
People who contribute $5 to $10 will get a treat from Nona's. People who donate $5,000 or more will get a gift basket with a dinner for four.
Other levels of donations get other types of gifts.
"I've never done anything like this before," Kelly said. "But Shauna (Dever-Jones, who operates Wheatgrass Juice Bar inside Nona's) has used it for her dance classes. That's where we got the idea."
She said in addition to local food products, Nona's has started offering pottery classes, jewelry making classes, pasta making classes and basket weaving classes at night.
The store's first six months have been "awesome," Kelly said. "We have more customers from Evansville than we do from Kentucky. Evansville has discovered our downtown and they love it."
More than 40 regional vendors sell their products in the store, which is a combination grocery, gift shop and delicatessen that features a variety of "Kentucky Proud" food and other products.