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BUYING A SMALL BUSINESS

Business for Sale: Coastal North Carolina Blueberry Farm

A detailed look at a business offered for sale including the price rationale and pros and cons of the purchase.
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THE BUSINESS
Tired of growing the corporate bottom line? Why not grow blueberries instead on this 100-acre farm on the lush coast of North Carolina? Operated by one family for the past 30 years, the farm annually yields more than half a million pounds of blueberries, which it sells to wholesale chains. If you need help during the busy season (April through the June harvest), the current owners will stay on to assist you. (You'll get to know them anyhow, since they want to continue to own the farmhouse after they retire.)

PRICE
$1.1 million for the farm; $2.1 million for the farm and 330 additional undeveloped acres.

OUTLOOK
U.S. blueberry consumption has been rising steadily, from 11.3 ounces per person in 1990 to 14.4 ounces last year. So what makes blueberry farmers sing the blues? Prices that fluctuate from 1992's high of 96¢ a pound (for a 30-pound carton of frozen berries) to 1995's low of 55¢. This farm's biggest selling point is its early crop, which is harvested and sold before New Jersey's berries are even picked. To boost results, the new owners could plant more acreage (at a cost of about $5,000 an acre) or diversify into blueberry-muffin kits and other gift packages.

PRICE RATIONALE
Farms are the ultimate real estate play. But, while top-quality farmland in this state might fetch $20,000 an acre, blueberry experts suggest that $3,000 a planted acre fits better here. That suggests a starting price of $300,000; with equipment (including a 27-year-old blueberry harvester) at a book value of $388,000, a ballpark price for the farm alone might be $600,000 to $700,000. Don't go wild over the undeveloped acreage before seeing if wetlands considerations might hinder its potential for more planting or other development.

PROS
Find your thrill on blueberry hill.

CONS
If you really crave a return to nature, it would be easier on your back and pocketbook to start shopping at a farmers' market instead.

Inc. has no stake in the sale of the business featured.
The magazine cannot confirm the accuracy of financial or other information offered by the seller. Inquiries should be directed to Bill Johnston, Venture Resources Inc., 919-787-0868.

Financials 1993 1994 1995
Gross Revenues $676,876 $665,418 $675,727
Recast Earnings* $229,468 $157,474 $170,044
*Before depreciation, interest, taxes, and owner compensation
Last updated: Dec 1, 1996




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