Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bun Penny Closing

A friend just forwarded me this email from the daughter of the owner on Bun Penny:

Hello, my name is McKenzie Ditter. My father owns Bun Penny in the Columbia Mall and I regret to tell you that we will be closing down at some point in the next three weeks. Bun Penny stopped being profitable quite a long time ago, but my father now cannot even break even thanks to the mall's skyrocketing rent. I'm not sure how often you update your blog, but I'd appreciate it if you could mention this as soon as possible. The sooner I can get the word out, the better.

The Bun Penny market and cafe has been a part of the Columbia Mall for nearly forty years, and my family has owned it for the past eighteen. We have always struggled to survive in the mall, but after General Growth Properties' acquisition of the Rouse Company, it has become impossible. The day before this Thanksgiving, my father was notified that Bun Penny must leave the mall by January 15th. Just as they decided that Columbia no longer needed the Poinsettia Tree, they have decided that Bun Penny no longer has a place in the Columbia Mall.

Until now, my family has kept news of our closure a secret from customers and employees for fear of jeopardizing the final shipments from our food distributors. Now, with Christmas passed, I think it is safe to spread the word. I'd like Columbia to recognize the plight of small businesses in the profit-before-people culture fostered by companies like GGP. I want people to see how far the new owners of Columbia are straying from James Rouse's initial vision. My family has been struggling to pay an ever-increasing rent of $38,000 a month to a company based in Chicago that shows little to no regard for the traditions and institutions of Columbia .

I don't know what the future holds for Bun Penny, but knowing that it will no longer be a part of the mall is sad. As much as I dislike the superficiality of what the mall has become, it's hard to forget that it has been a second home to my father, mother, brother and me for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I played in the straw barrels that we used for gift baskets. I threw temper-tantrums in front of customers, had countless crushes on cute deli boys twice my age, and broke more bottles of wine than I can remember. I collected coffee beans from the ground, made sandwich signs and window murals, sewed tablecloths, and catered the beautiful weddings of some of Columbia 's most powerful residents. I can make a gift basket with my eyes closed and recite the prices of hundreds of cracker boxes and jellies and teas in my sleep. For better or worse, Bun Penny has been an extremely important part of my life, and I know I am not alone.

Bun Penny is a family business - not just my immediate family, but the extended family of employees, customers, and even old Harry the produce man. There are men and women working at this store who have known me since before I was born. The Bun Penny family has seen births, teenage romances, graduations, marriage s, divorces, and deaths. Through it all, there has always been love and support for anyone in need. This family deserves to know how much they are worth and how much they have meant to us. This is not the first time that a family business has been driven out of the Columbia Mall and it does not bode well for the few that remain. Considering the Poinsettia Tree debacle, tradition appears to be a tender topic during the holidays and GGP's continued efforts to undermine such traditions should not go unnoticed. If Columbia wants to preserve its other institutions, it must continue to make its voice heard.

As I spent time downtown for CA meeting, Bun Penny represented to me the potential of downtowns future: a park once, walkable downtown that was alive with people and things to do. Situated at the exit of the mall that the county wanted to make the connecting link between the Lakefront and the mall if traffic from work allowed I could park once and run up across the walking bridge to Bun Penny, get the best deli sandwich I have ever had (and if I was feeling particularly down about how things were going at CA a slice of chocolate cake), and then run down to the CA meeting. During the summer when I went to see a movie at the Lakefront I could walk across the walking bridge pick up a picnic meal from Bun Penny and then go eat at the grass amphitheater with friends or a date before the movie.


Now not only is GGP supportive of the county's idea of extending Wincopin Street over the top edge of the grass amphitheater they are also pushing the very businesses that they say downtown is lacking out of property they own downtown. If GGP has a good financial reason for significantly raising the rent of Bun Penny and then finally telling the owners of Bun Penny they need to get out of the mall, then I would like to hear it. As it stands now this becomes yet another example of GGP talking one game about wanting a vibrant downtown and pushing for a plan that thus far as been little more than window dressing to grant them the zoning to allow 5500 new residential that will allow them to sell off their land for significantly more than they currently can sell it for.

When I have looked at all the plans that have been presented so far, I keep saying to myself, "Well, that is interesting, but it really won't achieve what its advocates claim." I strongly desire to see downtown redeveloped and I do think downtown is a good place for the county to absorb population growth, but when we redevelop downtown we first need a plan that addresses how the grand statements from the county and GGP will we achieve, and we need a plan that stays true to the values Columbia was founded on: 1) mixed income housing, 2) preserve greenspace, 3) plan before you build so that you have infrastructure that meets the community's needs.

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61 Comments:

Blogger John G. Boyle said...

Evan,

Good to hear your voice again!

JB

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If GGP has a good financial reason for significantly raising the rent of Bun Penny and then finally telling the owners of Bun Penny they need to get out of the mall, then I would like to hear it."

I really think that all the people that gripe about GGP ought to at least take a Business 101 course at HCC. GGP is not a charitable organization. And even if they were, they would still need to make ends meet, cover costs, and either break even or make a profit.

While I will be sad to see Bun Penny go, to say that GGP should be extending charity to BP just for the sake of Columbia tradition is to be ignorant of simple business principles. This isn't a matter of spending a couple grand on a bunch of poinsettias. This is about making money on the space that Bun Penny currently occupies. If BP can't afford the rent, BP needs to find new space.

Maybe they can head to Baltimore City. That's where people who can't afford to live in Howard County are being told to go.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous for your post and a dose of reality.

"If GGP has a good financial reason for significantly raising the rent of Bun Penny and then finally telling the owners of Bun Penny they need to get out of the mall, then I would like to hear it."

I actually laughed when I read that. Isn't the reason clear? Bun Penny can't afford the rent, but obviously someone else can and will.

I agree with Anon 9:03 that GGP should not have to be extending charity to Bun Penny just because it is a Columbia Tradition. And why would they? Columbians have been mostly hostile towards GGP since they took over. Maybe if we give a little to GGP in the downtown process, they would give a little back. Maybe we give them extra density and they in return they could subsidized rent for small businesses downtown. Maybe that is not a reality, but certainly we will get a better downtown if participate in a little give and take.

I really like Bun Penny and I am sad that it will be gone, but that's business. I would love to see them downtown. In fact I would probably shop there a lot more if they weren't in the mall.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

To the two anonymous people, you are right that GGP isn't technically doing anything wrong. I'm McKenzie's boyfriend and I helped her write that letter, so I've been pretty involved with the situation. We weren't trying to beg for charity from GGP; that's not what we want and it would be pointless to ask. We're trying to alert Columbians that the Poinsettia Tree is not the only tradition at risk. Whether people care is up to them, we just want them to know.

Personally, I believe that GGP does owe local businesses like Bun Penny some degree of charity. The mall was not founded simply to be a business. It was built to be the town center and to represent the community around it. This becomes less and less possible as it is populated by cold, impersonal megastores. Nothing about the mall is unique to Columbia anymore. It doesn't represent our city any more than Snowden Square or Dobbin Center do. The heart of Columbia is now completely interchangeable with the malls of every other upper middle class suburban town. Contrary to Rouse's goals, Columbia is becoming just another rich, white community exactly like the countless others across the country.

Columbia and its mall were not founded to maximize profit. They were founded to create a unique and diverse community, and these goals are being ignored more every year. Do you really think GGP absolutely needs $38,000 a month in rent from Bun Penny and the other businesses in the mall in order to survive? They are not going to go out of business if they charge a few thousand dollars less. By maximizing profits instead of community, GGP is betraying Rouse's vision. There is no denying that. If Columbians are okay with that, then so be it. Apparently Rouse's Columbia wasn't meant to be.

To the second anonymous, suggesting that we owe something to GGP shows the same lack of understanding that you accuse us of. Why should we give them charity if they won't do the same for us? The free market demands that we stop patronizing them if they don't give us what we want.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeremy,

I was not suggesting that we owe something to GGP. I was saying if we EXPECT GGP give us things like lower rent for small businesses we need to be ready and WILLING to give them something in return, like density. I was not so much responding your letter, but to Evan's comment about wanting a reason. It seems a lot of people who are against higher density in Downtown want all these things that they feel they are entitled to by GGP, but they don't want to give anything up in return. There has to be a little give and take and both sides. If people can't understand that, its shows a lack of logic.

Look, I am really sorry that Bun Penny will be gone and I certainly didn't mean to offend. It was one of my favorite places to eat at the Mall and a truly unique place. I sympathize with the owner and his family and I really hope that they will relocate somewhere else. I hear Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills have empty spaces in their village centers. Wouldn't it be nice if Bun Penny could move into one the older villages and help with the revitalization.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Columbia and its mall were not founded to maximize profit."

I'm sorry, but this just isn't so. The mall isn't a park, library, or other county or CPRA-funded entity. It's a shopping mall. It is part of a "town center" but the goal of any shopping mall is quite simply profit. Nothing about the mall was ever unique to Columbia, as a trip to other Rouse Co shopping malls would have indicated back in the day. In fact, they looked remarkably the same.

While I agree that the mall is overrun with chains versus good ole mom-and-pop stores, this isn't unique to the mall, Columbia, or the nation. It's a response to what customers want, as evidenced by their shopping habits. If enough customers chose Bun Penny over Panera, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

This is all said as someone who has lived and/or worked in Columbia for the better part of 30 years. This is said as someone who admires Rouse and the original goals and Columbia. However, it seems that hindsight is painting the man in a much different light than what he actually was. He was a visionary. And he was a businessman. Those things are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it should be said the the first is a requirement for success as the second.

Best of luck to the Bun Penny family in their future endeavors.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bun Penny family, for the many years of being a great store (as Columbia Magazine's "Best" awards noted time and time again), for carrying delightful products that allow us to enjoy and share our lives with others in thoughtfully delicious ways, and for letting us have one more important perspective of the current reality. I, too, hope for your relocation.

Yes, we do need to be mindful of our community's unique traditions and spaces, being careful not to see them so easily supplanted with whatever homogenized vend-o-mat, building, or nouveau plan come along.

Looking beyond just the monthly rent checks provided by the Mall's unique stores to also see their intrinsic value in maintaining the Mall's attraction (like the Poinsettia Tree) may be lacking in this case. Creating and maintaining a destination is something that makes a mall a Mall.

If it's believed there is no such additional intrinsic value to be contributed by these fine unique stores in maintaining pleasant shopping places and well-balanced mixes of stores, maybe it's time we just skip malls altogether and shop either more locally or online, patronizing more directly the makers and providers of quality products.

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Bun Penny should expand their name, product, and status. They are a Columbia institution and should remain that. Move a mile away from the mall and into the old Wilde Lake Giant location. Become bigger and better. If they want to stay the same size, then there are many places in Columbia where Bun Penny can emerge and thrive. Thanks for being such a great place Bun Penny, we will miss you in the mall.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous nrglarry said...

Bigger or smaller, Bun Penny MUST go on. Please tell me that you will remain open in some capacity somewhere. I need to know where to go to get my gift baskets and the special somthing for that special someone. The Hospital and I am sure many local businesses have been using Bun Penny forever for their catering. Just tell me where and I will follow.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Snady said...

GGP= Gouge Good People

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that General Growth can't extend a break to a local business because they are a business is ludicrous.

Businesses regularly get all sorts of tax breaks and corporate welfare from the government. Tit for tat deals abound in all walks of business. And in New York, landlords have to deal with rent control.

Some mechanism could be put in place to see that local business can thrive. General Growth should see the greater good in that Bun Penny generates a lot of mall traffic.

I'm glad to see two 18-year-olds so involved and articulate, though. I just hope Bun Penny can be saved, or at least move to a new location.

Where will I get my 205 sandwiches?!

3:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"General Growth should see the greater good in that Bun Penny generates a lot of mall traffic."

Apparently Bun Penny didn't generate enough traffic, or paying the rent wouldn't have been a problem.

It's nice to wax on about tradition and local business, but the heart of the matter is that for all the people whining about it closing, how many of them ate there regularly? How many more people are anxious to buy overpriced glazed cast iron pots from a new Williams Sonoma in its place?

Those that expect GGP to start handing out rent vouchers should really start to wonder how many more Land Rovers we'll see in fountains going forward. And when the next local business gets pushed out of the mall since its rent was raised to cover charity for Bun Penny, y'all will be whining again.

Big picture, people. Big picture.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Cassie said...

In response to anonymous at 8:27--

Bun Penny DID generate a lot of traffic. I have only been an employee at Bun Penny for a year-and-a-half, but that's long enough to realize that Bun Penny really was a successful store in terms of having customers. It's not about mall traffic, but rather the fact that Bun Penny is an independent business and can't afford a ludicrous amount of money for the rent every month. Any chain store in the mall with as much popularity as Bun Penny has would be able to survive because they are just that-- a chain with big corporate people behind it. You're looking at two different things here. You can't expect an independent family-owned business to generate much profit while spending $38,000 a month on the lease alone. However, that does not mean Bun Penny wasn't popular enough, and this certainly has been made clear by recent news stories and the uproar about the store closing down.

Now I'm certainly not business-savvy, but I definitely agree with many here who believe that Bun Penny would be successful elsewhere. Sadly, Bun Penny's spot for the past 37 years has been swept from under our feet, but I truly believe that with as many loyal customers Bun Penny has, along with the fact that we truly sell you a good cup of coffee (better than Starbucks), a delicious sandwich and the best chocolates and wine, Bun Penny could certainly survive in another location. Especially considering the fact that the rent somewhere else wouldn't be even remotely as high as it is in the Columbia Mall.

In the meantime, however, Bun Penny's immediate future is disappointing for sure. When a local business has been around for as long as Bun Penny, it is truly a shame that it has to go out in such a heartless way.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought about those "chains with the big corporate people behind them" and how they got their start?

Most of those stores (Starbucks too) started as family-owned businesses whose successful business models allowed them to expand into national chains.


"Any chain store in the mall with as much popularity as Bun Penny has would be able to survive because they are just that-- a chain with big corporate people behind it."

Those big chains need to pay the rent too. Just because they are "corporate" doesn't make the money float down from heaven.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

Awful lot of Anon on this blog!

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duly noted, "Tom".

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I really think that all the people that gripe about GGP ought to at least take a Business 101 course at HCC..."

Tiered lease rates occur all the time, for a multitude of very business-sensible reasons. I've yet to see lease contract terms refer to any such differentiation in lease rates among tenants as "charity", so I doubt the commentors are truly "ignorant of simple business principles". And it's a shame you take the community's concern over Mall and Town Center goings on as griping. Wouldn't it be far more troubling if the community stopped caring about what goes in the Mall?

"Maybe if we give a little to GGP in the downtown process, they would give a little back. Maybe we give them extra density and they in return they could subsidized rent for small businesses downtown."

Sounds like opening the door to trickle down economics, providing the windfall to the developer while also externalizing the many costs and effects of that increased density onto the community at large. That's really worked out great in the past, huh? Not.

"certainly we will get a better downtown if participate in a little give and take"

Certainly? What do you consider "better" and just what things do you suggest we collectively give up? I don't think there's any certainty to be had without considerable forethought, discussion, consensus, and oversight.

"if we EXPECT GGP give us things like lower rent for small businesses we need to be ready and WILLING to give them something in return, like density.... There has to be a little give and take and both sides. If people can't understand that, its shows a lack of logic."

What's illogical is now having multiple traffic studies showing increased density will cost the community at large lots of time, money, pollution, money, frustration, money, loss of greenspace, noise, and money but little being done to frame the vision realistically to avoid such a slew of negative impacts.

"The mall isn't a park, library, or other county or CPRA-funded entity. It's a shopping mall. It is part of a "town center" but the goal of any shopping mall is quite simply profit."

The Mall should be profitable, but it, like all the other parts of Columbia and the surrounding area, is a part of our community. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. To conduct any enterprise or part thereof as if its mission doesn't include being a responsible part of its community in many ways is hard to justify. Would anyone want purely profit driven enterprises in their midst? The Mall was born of Rouse's goals for Columbia, which certainly included profit, but not at the exclusion of Columbia's other goals, too.

"Those big chains need to pay the rent too. Just because they are "corporate" doesn't make the money float down from heaven."

Oh, really? From Wikipedia's article on predatory pricing: "chain retailers [are] able to subsidize a temporary overall loss at one location with profits from other locations. Once all competitors for a given product line are driven out of an area, prices on that product line can be raised to a point that is profitable (particularly with reduced costs), yet low enough to serve as a barrier to entry, at least for independent specialty merchants."

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:26- I am not the anon you responded too, but I’ll take a crack at responding to your comment:

“Tiered lease rates occur all the time, for a multitude of very business-sensible reasons.”

Name one reason Bun Penny should pay less rent than an offer from Williams Sonoma. Many other food venders, who sell food much less than Bun Penny does, are current with their rent.

“Sounds like opening the door to trickle down economics, providing the windfall to the developer while also externalizing the many costs and effects of that increased density onto the community at large. That's really worked out great in the past, huh? Not.”

Uh, yeah it actually has. Perhaps you have heard of New Town Zoning. It is what the County gave to Rouse to make Columbia possible in the first place.

“I don't think there's any certainty to be had without considerable forethought, discussion, consensus, and oversight.”

Agreed, but your emotional appeals are not contributing to any degree of certainty about anything.

“The Mall was born of Rouse's goals for Columbia, which certainly included profit, but not at the exclusion of Columbia's other goals, too.”

What other Rouse goal, specifically, is compromised by a business decision to remove Bun Penny (which can always move to another location outside the mall) to move in a tenant that actually pays their rent?

“From Wikipedia's article on predatory pricing:…”

There is no evidence to suggest predatory pricing is going on here. Panera Bread, for example, consistently undercuts Bun Penny on prices of sandwiches, and they are current with rent. Do you really expect prices at Panera to rise after Bun Penny is gone? Give me a break. There is cutthroat competition for food prices in that mall, which is why Bun Penny is no longer able to survive.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous jim adams said...

Evan,

As John G. Boyle said, and I quote,

"Good to hear your voice again"

Jim Adams

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Name one reason Bun Penny should pay less rent than an offer from Williams Sonoma. Many other food venders, who sell food much less than Bun Penny does, are current with their rent."

I wasn't aware Williams Sonoma made an offer on the space. If that is the case, a few reasons Bun Penny could provide greater value to GGP are: customer loyalty, reputation, and a business that's demonstrated decades of loyalty and ongoing business to the Mall. But, heck, if those are just being "emotional" and it's too hard to see those are benefits just as tangible as a fatter rent check for the short term, then I guess I don't know much about business. Something about a bird in the hand comes to mind.

"Uh, yeah it actually has. Perhaps you have heard of New Town Zoning. It is what the County gave to Rouse to make Columbia possible in the first place."

We'll see how it progresses, but I don't think the concept of shoehorning another 20,000 people into an existing Town Center and exceeding Columbia's commercial space plan as well is going to result in the same situation as New Town Zoning did.

"Agreed, but your emotional appeals are not contributing to any degree of certainty about anything."

Emotional? I thought we were discussing business and the community.

"What other Rouse goal, specifically, is compromised by a business decision to remove Bun Penny (which can always move to another location outside the mall) to move in a tenant that actually pays their rent?"

Well the other three goals are
1. meet the basic needs of its residents,
2. respect and have a relationship with nature, and
3. contribute to the growth of mankind

I (1) need good chocolate and wine as part of (2) my relationship with nature, to contribute to (3) the growth of my waistline. But seriously, working with longtime business partners that have demonstrated loyalty is something that builds good business relationships and strengthens communities.

My reference to the Wikipedia wasn't to say predatory pricing was occurring, it was to refute that the statement that chain stores can't get "money from heaven". My point was solely that it is possible, per that article, for such chains to use such resources to compete at great advantage to smaller merchants, leaving both the smaller merchant and possibly the customer worse off.

I'm not sure why you're comparing Panera and Bun Penny anyway. Two different product sets to me.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" few reasons Bun Penny could provide greater value to GGP are: customer loyalty, reputation, and a business that's demonstrated decades of loyalty and ongoing business to the Mall. But, heck, if those are just being "emotional" and it's too hard to see those are benefits just as tangible as a fatter rent check"

This makes zero sense with regards to running a business, even a lemonade stand. Loyalty, reputation, tradtion, blah blah blah. Great tag lines, but no, they are not just as tangible as a fatter rent check (you can wiktionary "tangible" to check.) If loyalty and reputation don't translate into revenue, then there is no business. Period.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous dennis b said...

Saying Bun Penny is a business is like saying Martin O'Malley is a guitar player.

It's the truth, but you're leaving a whole lot out.

For many, Bun Penny was a social hub of sorts. And when it's gone, the conduit to connect with old friends will be gone. Business often fill a social role in society as well as an economic one.

People who whine about their favorite TV show going off the air, and if they miss imaginary characters, you bet they'll miss the chance to catch up with real ones.

The fact is that General Growth damaged Bun Penny's business by redesigning the Mall entrance. Maybe Bun Penny's owner didn't complain enough. But the tables stopped being full AFTER the redesign, not when the new owners took over.

Bun Penny was also a unique business in that you won't be able to find one when it's gone. It's not like Burger King or a library branch is being shut down.

Sadly, though, the closing of Bun Penny may be a testament to the fact that non-cultured Columbians prefer Panrea's processed crap to Bun Penny's original creations.

1:19 AM  
Anonymous DawnP said...

Ditto to everything Dennis B said above! In particular, your point about the (horrible) redesign of the Mall entrance totally hits the nail on the head. Perhaps one bright spot in this sad news is that Bun Penny can relocate to a location that is more easily accessible (like the pre-redesign Mall location), and they can again become the community gathering place so many of us remember so fondly.

I anxiously await news of Bun Penny's future plans.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Tiered lease rates occur all the time, for a multitude of very business-sensible reasons.”

I think the mall does have tiered lease rates. I wonder what the rent was before they expanded and how much that expansion hurt them.

"Sadly, though, the closing of Bun Penny may be a testament to the fact that non-cultured Columbians prefer Panrea's processed crap to Bun Penny's original creations.”

This is the truth and I am guessing most of the people complaining probably go to Panera over Bun Penny all the time. The bottom line is people in Columbia didn't support Bun Penny. Just because the chain store are here doesn't mean people have to shop at them, but most people do. And its not just the non-cultured Columbians.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous jim adams ( a man of varied taste) said...

I like Panrea, even if it is for the non-cultured.

I like Bun Penny, even though it hasn't helped me play the piano, and I still care very little for art.

Of course I even like McDonald's

Just a man with no real taste, but I do know that variety is the spice of life.

What I don't know about food is a whole lot, but what I can quess at about human nature is that Bun Penny will still be a part of Columbia, maybe just not in the Mall.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anon13 said...

How are you all able to get near the Mall?

I haven't been able to park near the mall in over a year.

Cannibalistic plan: Shoehorn, no stack people literally on top of one another in high rises so that they cannot leave their Towncenter condos after getting home. The only place for them to go? The Mall, and you can raise rents through the roof. Sold! to the highest bidder, quality of life be damned.

And we still have people supporting more of this?

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do the owners of Bun Penny want us/government/ to do about it?

9:38 AM  
Anonymous CresceNet said...

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10:24 AM  
Anonymous jim adams said...

Anon 13, didn't you ever go to an amusment park and ride the bumper cars. Use the same skills learned there to get near the Mall.

Your comment about parking, look for the spaces near the trees, the unmarked spaces, and don't worry if you have blocked someone else, that's part of the fun, and don't you just love when you see the handicapped spaces being used illegally.

I like your thoughts of stacking people, let's fill up Columbia. Could you imagine these people living somewhere else, don't even go there with that thought.

If you are the same one that mentioned chocolate and wine, I agreed as to their importance. It's their impact on our brains, chocolate to substitute for the love we will not have and wine to numb our brains as we watch Columbia grow.

And what are these thoughts of loyalty and reputation, so old fashion, we no longer teach them in our family structures. I think there are some schools that teach them, under such headings as Business Ethics, but allowing the schools to teach to the tests, prevents the development of criticial thinking skills, which then allows the acceptance of 20,000 more people into an over crowded space. See how it works, what goes around comes around.

Please don't mention Wikipedia, that's a free thinkers plot to trasform our pleasure seeking minds. Much better, and may I add easier, to read advertisments and price tags at the Mall.

The comment about business 101, wrong, wrong, wrong. Parking 101, that's what we need and maybe shopping 101.

Just one last comment. Bun Penny moving to Baltimore. If they did that maybe they could tie in with Rheb's candy. It's the best chocolate. No, not a good thought, everyone one would move to Baltimore, Columbia would become, something like an old west ghost town, and those of us remaining would pay higher property taxes, and not have enough money for candy and wine.

Oh! I am wore out with all this ridiculous prose, time to go to the Mall.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous jim adams said...

Sorry, I am back, haven't been to the Mall yet, so I will make this short.

The comment about the bird in the hand, let it go. It's not really worth two in the bush. That's an old wives tale. One bird = one bird, two birds = two birds, and if you hold it long enough it may peck you, or even worse it may die.

I will be looking for that bird in the tree I park next to at the Mall.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even when one bird in our midst passes, it's good reason to pause and think of the bigger picture.

We should be careful to take care of such smart birds, making sure they continue to be a part of it. Just one can contribute quite a bit to the community.

Sometimes, such care can boil down to making the right choices locally, whether it's development or just choosing a good cup of coffee.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous jb said...

From an earlier Anon:
"" few reasons Bun Penny could provide greater value to GGP are: customer loyalty, reputation, and a business that's demonstrated decades of loyalty and ongoing business to the Mall. But, heck, if those are just being "emotional" and it's too hard to see those are benefits just as tangible as a fatter rent check"

This makes zero sense with regards to running a business, even a lemonade stand. Loyalty, reputation, tradtion, blah blah blah. Great tag lines, but no, they are not just as tangible as a fatter rent check (you can wiktionary "tangible" to check.) If loyalty and reputation don't translate into revenue, then there is no business. Period."

I actually have taken significantly more than just a Bus101 course(and not at HCC!)...
Customer loyalty, reputation, long-term high-quality goods, and being a reliable tenant during the previous 28 years would all contribute to Bun Penny's goodwill value - they are all intangible assets which cannot be recorded on any financial statement, but which translate directly to an increased price during a buyout. ie If Panera (just an example) were to buy out BP, the price would include the added value of all of the above, because Panera would benefit from them when absorbing BP. IF GGP is serious about maintaining Rouse's Columbia, there is no reason they cannot subsidize mom-and-pop rents (Macy's, Hollister, AmEagle, (etc)or any of the jewelry stores would certainly provide enough excess to make up the difference), based on the knowledge that these stores do have strong intangibles, not just blind name-brand devotion as with other stores.
Bun Penny has long been a favorite store of mine, and I shall be very sorry indeed to see another store in its place!

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jb- consider revisiting your business school textbook. Intangible assets benefit the actual business associated with those intangibles, not the landlord of that business. While intangibles (i.e. a “good name”) may increase the price that an investor would pay for Bun Penny, those intangibles in no way benefit GGP. Therefore, I fail to see any relevance to your comment. If you disagree, please explain how any intangible asset that Bun Penny has created would benefit GGP.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Customer loyalty"

If Bun Penny had more Customer loyalty, they could probably afford the rent.

12:54 PM  
OpenID squeakyflirt said...

I have been going to Bun Penny since I was a little girl. I can remmebr trying to jump up and down so I could see over the counter. It sued to be the only place around to get a potato Kinsh. I also feel GGP owes someting to Punny Benny and other family run businesses. Over the pass few years I have watched the mall go from a a place with mnay unquie stores to one of all chain stores and I don't like it. I loved being able to go to the mall and shop for more then just the same old chain store items, suchas clothes and shoes. I am sorryt hat Bun Penny one of the last famiyl owned stores is leaving. I feel like Columbia is losing the feel it used to have of a small town and city at the same time. My heart is with all who work or shop at Bun Penny during this time and I hope Jeff and his family can find a way to keep Bun Penny's legacy going.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Christian Beyer said...

The anonymous free market 'economists' out there might benefit from opening a history book once and awhile. The market has never been unbiased - it always favors those that already have power and property. Throughout history, since the beginning of market economies, whenever those that have more take advantage of those that have less then we end up with revolts, unions, socialism and repressive government. I am a firm believer in the market economy but the capitalist has an obligation to the community and society, as well as his employees, customers and vendors.

It is a shame that more 'economists' don't open some other books as well. In a few you wind this advice to the business man; "Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you."

Unless of course you love nothing other than WalMart and BestBuy (who are subsidized by the local governments, btw).

Anyone for a Big Mac?

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I moved to Howard Courty in 1974, Bun Penny has always been a favorite place to stop in, eat, and shop. Without Bun Penny the Columbia Mall will never be the same to me.

Mckenzie, you and your family should consider opening up in another area. I will be happy to support you and bring my friends.

Sincerely, A Friend

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't find my comment from yesterday morning but that's okay. All of this talk about the closing of Bun Penny and how sad it is is sort silly isn't it. Sometimes we forget whats really most important, and to me it's our health. Right?, because if you don't have your health then what is there. We have our love for our families, and we have responsibilities to our children. Sometimes in life I think there just are no easy paths, and when there are easy paths you should, "if you can" take a breather for yourself and use that opportunity to prepare for the harder, rockier paths that will come along later. The really rocky paths are what will make you, or break you and hopefully when and if you can make it though the rocks, you will be able to look back and realize you just added another muscle to your soul.this has been another crypic message from me, anonymous. And yes it's true, I can't spell. What ever path you are on today, I wish you strenght, and peace!!!!

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over on freemarket's blog, he asked Christian, "Compare Borders to a mom-and-pop bookstore and let me know which one you like better."

For me, the answer would easily be mom-and-pops. Tattered Cover bookstores in Denver, some believe, served as the model for both Borders and Barnes and Noble. Tattered Cover, like Bun Penny, started in the '70's, was sold to a second local owner decades ago, expanded into adjacent retail space, has lasted to the present, and had to leave its original location recently due to higher rent.

It, like Bun Penny, counts a loyal customer base among its attributes. When Tattered Cover's original location closed for the move on a Saturday night in June 2006, 300 loyal customers showed up, helped move several hundred thousand books, and the store reopened two days later on Monday.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

!A big company camein and took all the fixtures, even the last few boxes of strawberries. I hope they like them.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, my budget doesn't allow me to journey all the way to Denver to hit up a bookstore.

Any examples that are actually realistic?

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would think there are so many customers who just got disgusted by the way Bun Penny was being run. It's very obvious that neglect or just plain stupidity is what ran the business down. It created many jobs for people, and it had so much to offer. I know many people who tried to offer help, and suggestions to make the store get back to what it really started out to be. It was also the only store in the whole mall with a liqour lisence. How stupid to screw that up. I think the previous owner was laughing all the way to the bank with his million dollars he got paid.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to say how proud I am of my daughter ( Mckenzie) for her strength. I am her mother, and it took alot of guts to speak her mind. She , and my son are very very hard workers,and very intelligent. I believe they will both be very sucessful in life. Ever since they were very little I have tried to teach them to speak up for themselves. I hope they will continue to through out their lives, and to try to "do the right thing".I love them both so much.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I worked at bun penny for a few years, and I will miss it enormously as a customer. Best of luck to the Ditter family, thanks for the great place to work.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like everyone to know they still can order from bunpenny,just call the same phone number. They just renamed it BunPenny catering.

11:31 AM  
Blogger The Drakos said...

Perhaps Bun Penny could seek to reopen in one of the village centers, such as in the spaces vacated by grocery store closings in Wilde Lake or Oakland Mills.

This would also give them a chance to play a part in the revitalization of another Columbia tradition.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous debbie said...

It's been over a month since we closed at the mall and it's been more than an emotional rollercoaster, I am the "mom" who was sort of behind the scenes at the store for many years. I am the one who did things people never knew about, and also tried to apologize for a certain rude person. I was the one who tried to save the store, and yes I lost my cool a few times in the end.

I would like to thank all the employees who helped chase Mkenzie and Joey around when they were little, and babysat for us so we could both be at the store. Despite the fact that My X-husband has chosen to tell people I barely ever worked there. (I just had to throw that in there). This is really cheap therapy! Thanks.

I just needed to vent a little this morning, but really I wondered if anyone still reads this blog, and I wanted some feedback about anyone missing our coffee, or wanting gift baskets. I am the one who made all the aprons in the store, and that was the extent of my income. Not to mention I lost my health insurance, even though the store wasn't sold, and it didn't go out of business.
But I'll be okay, and you all can still get your BunPenny catering, just call that same old BunPenny phone number, and ask for Jeff. It's 410-730-4100. I am digging my way out of this mess, and I will survive! Love, Debbie

3:09 PM  
Blogger armored chef said...

I left the City of Columbia in August
of 2002 to accept a Chefs position in Savannah GA.The Bun Penny was my favorite store besides Produce Galore,and the Seafood Market. It makes me sad to know it will no longer be there when I visit Family in Ellicott City.I spent significant
money on Coffee,Tea,Wine,and hard to get condiments.Sadder still is the fact that there is no like business in Savannah other than the Fresh Market chain,whose mark-ups
border insanity.I will miss the wonderful mix of fragrances that greeted me the 2x a week I would
shop.You will not be forgotten.

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone think there is still a "want" for Bunpenny gift baskets? and the same old bunpenny coffees?

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will sorely miss Bun Penny. My sister from Baltimore and I used to meet there for a nutritious lunch and coffee. But I think they can do better than paying $38,000 per month rent. Sounds way too high to me. If all the other stores are paying that kind of rent, I wish them all the luck in the world. Hopefully Bun penny can find another location in which to reopen, at a much cheaper rent.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it' been almost a year..... i am sad

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like Bun Penny's space was just too large for them. Why not keep it simple, and don't do the gourmet chocolate, jams, etc. And focus on a great deli...we don't have any here in Columbia. We can get gift baskets and fancy chocolate online. Gotta stick to the core. It's a destination location for lots like me, but put in a good location near lots of lunch and dinner traffic, and you have that...PLUS, if it takes off with that crowd, it can become an even draw to those that aren't nostalgic for Bun Penney. They have just GOT to get a deli going. I can't wait much longer for a chicken salad sandwich! When my sister traveled in India while in college, we drove up to pick her up at JFK. My parents asked what we could bring her. Her answer...Bun Penny chicken salad sandwiches and diet coke. With the diet coke WAY lagging behind the Bun Penny request. We packed a cooler and met her at the airport with it all waiting in the car for her! Now, THAT'S the kind of loyalty and uniqueness I'm talking about. And I'm only anonymous because I don't have a Google sign in.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like Bun Penny's space was just too large for them. Why not keep it simple, and don't do the gourmet chocolate, jams, etc. And focus on a great deli...we don't have any here in Columbia. We can get gift baskets and fancy chocolate online. Gotta stick to the core. It's a destination location for lots like me, but put in a good location near lots of lunch and dinner traffic, and you have that...PLUS, if it takes off with that crowd, it can become an even draw to those that aren't nostalgic for Bun Penney. They have just GOT to get a deli going. I can't wait much longer for a chicken salad sandwich! When my sister traveled in India while in college, we drove up to pick her up at JFK. My parents asked what we could bring her. Her answer...Bun Penny chicken salad sandwiches and diet coke. With the diet coke WAY lagging behind the Bun Penny request. We packed a cooler and met her at the airport with it all waiting in the car for her! Now, THAT'S the kind of loyalty and uniqueness I'm talking about. And I'm only anonymous because I don't have a Google sign in.

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4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked part time after school at Bun Penny when I was 14 in 1985. It was a great shop that was years ahead of its time: gourmet coffee and cheese are commonplace now but not then, not in the suburbs of Maryland. I still remember the delicious fragrance of ground Viennese cinnamon coffee! I have many fond memories.... Eric

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Alex W. said...

Is there any way that I could get the chicken salad recipe???:) It is seriously THE BEST chicken salad I've ever had. My dad would drive me 45 min to columbia mall just to get Bun Penny's chicken salad. We used to do it every friday night when he would get off work. Unfortunately you guys closed before I was of age to drive myself down there:( So is there any way at all that I could get the recipe???:) Atleast send a reponse even if no. Please send responses to yngwie1500@hotmail.com - Thanks!, Alex

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