Community money is pouring in to the Anchor Brewing Company employees’ bid to buy the brewery after its August closure, as a GoFundMe campaign has hit more than half its goal in just two days.
It was bitter news when we learned in July that Anchor Brewing Company declared bankruptcy and announced its impending closure. That was the decision of Japanese brewing conglomerate Sapporo, who acquired Anchor Brewing in 2017.
But Anchor Brewing Company has risen from the dead before, most notably when Fritz Maytag bought the company on its deathbed in 1965 and fully revived the brand. And a few local suitors and investors announced possibly credible plans to buy the brewery, but none seemed as determined as the unionized Anchor Brewing Union employees, who announced aspirational plans to buy the brewery and make it a co-op in late July.
And those employees are the first ones making a major move to line up the funding. The Anchor Union launched their GoFundMe fundraising campaign on Monday, with a goal of $50,000 in donations. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, just one day after its launch, the total raised had already reached more than $25,000, and keeps growing. (As seen below, the campaign had already hit $15,000 before the first day was even finished.)
“Workers have formed a co-op with the intention of purchasing and running the business collectively and carrying on the Anchor's legacy,” the workers say on their GoFundMe announcement. “We are working with organizations who specialize in worker ownership and are guiding us through this process. We need the community's help to cover our costs as we explore the possibilities of worker ownership.”
Still, how realistic is this employee bid to buy the brewery? Anchor employees had already said publicly they felt Sapporo was intentionally slow-walking on their offer, and the employees taking over may not be something Sapporo Brewing is keen to see. And honestly, a $50,000 goal seems pretty unambitious given the scope of the purchase. (The brewery and the property under it alone are likely worth millions!)
Consider that the crowdfunding campaign to resurrect The Stud is asking a far heftier $500,000, and Anchor Brewing is a much more sprawling business enterprise with global fandom. But since the Anchor employees’ crowdfunding campaign is likely to surpass its goal by mid- to late-week, it’s a fair bet the Anchor campaign will exceed that $50,000 goal exponentially.
And as we've explained before, since Anchor Brewing is in bankruptcy, Sapporo Brewing does not get to decide who buys which assets. That decision goes to the third-party California Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors, who will likely make their asset sale decisions based on cold-blooded financial calculations rather than who is the sentimental favorite.
But the Anchor employees do have legal counsel and employee ownership experts, so you figure they're getting pretty solid counsel. And for what it’s worth, NBC Bay Area reports that San Jose’s Fox Tale Fermentation Project just released a Solidarity Ale whose proceeds will go to support the Anchor employees’ bid. There's a similar Solidarity Ale proceed campaign at SF’s Enterprise Brewing on Howard Street, and other brewpubs may join that effort too. Though it’s unclear whether any proceeds raised in a limited edition beer release would even be a drop in the barrel given the money it would take to buy Anchor Brewing Company.
Image: @portercentral via Twitter