David Kasen Quoted by the Courier-Post Regarding Kirby Brothers, Inc. Bankruptcy

Longtime Firms Seek Bankruptcy Protection


MEDFORD – Kirby Brothers Inc., a farm-supply store that recently closed after 140 years in Medford, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The business cited debts of almost $200,000 in a filing at federal bankruptcy court in Camden, including unpaid taxes of more than $50,000. The court papers reflect the retailer’s rural roots, noting $8,200 is owed to a feed company and $3,200 for dog food and pet supplies.

The company is seeking to stave off foreclosure of its North Main Street store, its home since the 1920s, said Cherry Hill attorney David A. Kasen.

“We have the building listed for sale,” Kasen said. A sale could bring in $1 million, he said, “which would be sufficient to satisfy all of the debts.”

Kirby Brothers, which went to court March 23, was the second long-time Burlington County business to seek bankruptcy protection in recent weeks.

Carollo’s Bar and Restaurant in Hainesport took the same action March 15.

The business, a Marne Highway landmark since 1998, listed debts of more than $625,000. It owes $150,000 to the IRS, and $330,000 in two loans made by Fulton Bank, according to the restaurant’s filing.

Carollo’s listed assets of about $787,000, including real estate valued at $450,000 and a liquor license worth an estimated $300,000.

An attorney for Carollo’s could not be reached for comment.

Both Carollo’s and Kirby Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which typically allows a firm to reorganize its finances while it continues in business. But Kirby Brothers, which closed its doors on New Year’s Day, plans instead to liquidate its assets, Kasen said.

“Things changed and business wasn’t so good,” he said.

The company, owned by Charles E. Kirby Jr. and Janice Kirby of Medford, was founded in 1875 as a grain business. Business faltered as the area’s farms were sold to housing developers, and efforts to diversify the product line and extend operating hours failed to revive the company’s finances.

The retailer’s debt includes $30,000 owed to the IRS, $17,700 in state sales tax and $9,600 in township taxes, according to the March 23 filing. The largest creditor is Snap Advances, a Salt Lake City lender that’s owed $57,700, while six credit-card companies are owed a combined $43,000.

By Jim Walsh of the Courier-Post



Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum Successfully Emerges From Bankruptcy

PicThe Please Touch Museum declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy last September to settle a $60 million debt it incurred to pay for the museum’s move from Center City to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park in 2008. On Wednesday, a federal judge agreed to a plan that will lift the Please Touch Museum’s $60 million debt for a payment of $11.25 million.

New chief executive Patricia Wellenbach called it “a great burden lifted” for the museum, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this fall.

The kid friendly institute needed to raise about $8.25 million through fundraising before this month, or the point when the reorganization process can be finalized. In all, the tax-exempt children’s museum has raised $7.86 million since it began the bankruptcy process in September. The William Penn Foundation provided $1.3 million, the Neubauer Family Foundation $1 million, and the Hamilton Family Foundation $350,000. The largest donation was $3.25 million from an anonymous individual. To persuade foundations and philanthropists to contribute, Wellenbach had to sell them on the possibility of rejuvenating the institution for new generations of children. The City of Philadelphia and some long-term vendors also agreed to accept less than they were owed to help the museum out of Chapter 11.

New Legislation in New Jersey Senate to Take Over Atlantic City

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New Jersey lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would pull Atlantic City from the brink of bankruptcy but strip local officials of their authority, setting the stage for a fierce debate over the city’s future.

The legislation introduced in the state Senate would give the state control for five years over all government functions, including the ability to sell Atlantic City’s assets, alter or terminate union contracts and sell bonds.

The legislation also prevents city officials from seeking bankruptcy protection, a move they have publicly threatened in recent months, entrusting instead that power to a six-member legislative committee.

State officials had previously described the measure as a takeover, while Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian called it a partnership. On Wednesday, Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat from southern New Jersey, described it as an “intervention.”

“The intervention plan will enable the state and the city to work together to accomplish what Atlantic City can’t do on its own,” said Mr. Sweeney, a lead sponsor of the bill, in a statement. “The city’s fiscal crisis is severe and immediate.”

Atlantic City officials reacted with anger to the legislation. “It’s not a partnership, it’s a dictatorship,” City Council President Marty Small, a Democrat, said at a council meeting Wednesday night.

A spokesman for Atlantic City’s mayor didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday. The mayor has acknowledged the city’s need for state assistance but said he would oppose a complete state takeover because it would disenfranchise residents who elected him and the City Council.

Preventing bankruptcy is critical to protecting the credit ratings for New Jersey and its other cities, said Sen. Paul Sarlo, a Democrat from northern New Jersey who co-sponsored the bill. Atlantic City officials have floated bankruptcy as a potential solution to the city’s crushing debt, which is projected to total nearly $400 million over the next five years.

Mr. Sarlo said lawmakers are tired of subsidizing Atlantic City and wanted to ensure the city couldn’t file for bankruptcy.

“There’s so much Atlantic City fatigue in the Legislature that we felt we had to give the Legislature a say here in such a critical decision that may be made by Atlantic City,” he said, referring to bankruptcy.

Last month, Gov. Chris Christie announced he would support a five-year takeover of Atlantic City’s finances, but a spokesman for the governor declined to comment Wednesday on the new legislation.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Democrat, whose cooperation is necessary to send a bill to the governor’s desk, said through a spokeswoman that he remains concerned about “any efforts that would unilaterally alter collective bargaining.”

Assemblyman Chris Brown, a Republican, said he wants to hear how the state plans to “right-size” the city’s budget, which has been subject to approval by a state monitor since 2010. Atlantic City’s tax base has contracted 64% since 2010, but its budget stands at nearly $250 million for a city of about 40,000 people.

“They have this legislation that says they’re going to take over the city. OK, what are you going to do differently?” Mr. Brown said. “I’m still waiting to see the plan.”

Mr. Sarlo said the state would use its new powers to shrink the city’s government.

“The goal here is to sell off some of their assets, pay down some of their debt and to streamline government down there,” he said.

Mr. Sarlo said the proposed legislation is “less rigid” than what state lawmakers had originally envisioned. The proposed bill, for example, gives the city one year to increase revenue from its water utility before the state can sell it.

City residents and officials have long opposed privatizing the water utility, which currently operates as an independent government authority, for fear it will increase their water prices.

A companion piece of legislation, also introduced Wednesday, outlined a nine-year payment plan in lieu of property taxes for the city’s casinos. The arrangement would stabilize revenue for a city that has been slammed by property-tax appeals and is on track to run out of cash by April 1 or earlier.

The bill doesn’t address the city’s ongoing dispute with Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which successfully appealed its property-tax assessments dating back to 2009 and is now owed $150 million, plus interest. With Atlantic City unable to pay, a judge ruled earlier this month that Borgata could withhold its $7.2 million February tax payment as a way of recouping some of the debt.

A judge last week ordered Borgata and the state to hold a Feb. 23 settlement discussion to negotiate the outstanding debt.

Atlantic City, which dominated gaming on the East Coast for 30 years, has seen its economic pillars crumble over the past decade under competition from new casinos in Pennsylvania and New York state.

By Kate King of Dow Jones Business News


The Only 2 Financial Rules You Need Live By


There’s a lot of great advice out there (and on this very site) for saving money. But if it overwhelms you, start with just these two simple rules and you’ll be on your way to financial independence.

When it comes to the way we think about money, I’ve noticed there are two kinds of people: those who think $1,000 is a lot of money, and those who think $10 is a lot of money.

I fall into the second category. But I’m not especially frugal. I have a fairly nice car, I take a vacation every year, and it isn’t too hard to convince me to drop a few hundred dollars on a great pair of shoes now and then. I’ve never even clipped a coupon. But I’ve also maxed out my retirement savings, bought a house, and live without debt – all on an average salary for where I live.

What I’ve done isn’t extraordinary, but it does seem somewhat rare. That said, I think most people can accomplish this fairly easily. All you have to do is live and die by two simple rules…

  1. Pay yourself first: the best kind of cliche

“Pay yourself first” is a very common piece of financial advice. It’s simple enough to follow, but that doesn’t make it easy.

If you can save $200 per month at a 6-percent interest rate, you’ll have more than $200,000 in 30 years. At the very least, you’ll have a great savings fund at the ready for whatever life may bring. But how can you come up with that cash when you barely have any money left between paychecks?

The answer is to take that money off the top. And yes, it’ll sting a bit at first.

I’ve made a habit of taking contributions to my retirement and savings account right off the top of each paycheck on the very day it hits my bank account. I try to cut pretty deep too, leaving myself just a little more than I need to pay for expenses.

This works on two levels: It forces me to really budget to meet my basic expenses while keeping extra cash out of easy reach. I can still retrieve the money from my savings account if I happen to need it, but because I have to make a decision to transfer funds, they usually stay put. I allow myself to spend whatever I don’t need for expenses on whatever I like – if I don’t spend it by the time my next paycheck comes, I roll that into savings too.

I also save any additional money I get. I think a raise, tax return, or bonus can go two ways. It can raise your standard of living, or it can raise your standards. Rather than creating more expenses to suck up these extra dollars, I live the same way day to day and tuck the extra money away for something better.

  1. Practice mindful spending

Having some leeway in your paycheck isn’t a given, but I think many people have more wiggle room than they realize.

This is what I mean when I say that I think $10 is a lot of money. When I decide to buy something, it’s a decision, not an impulse buy. I want to spend my money on things that really have value for me, not just things that are convenient or appealing at the moment. So while I can buy something nice once in a while – without guilt – I have a hard time going out for lunch or buying (you guessed it) a latte.

Less expensive purchases are an easy mental hurdle to get over because they’re so small it seems that they could hardly amount to anything. The truth is, these seemingly insignificant purchases can easily amount to, or exceed, that $200 you may be aiming to save.

If you spend $4 every morning on a latte, and $12 each work day for lunch, this adds up to $80 per week – for a grand total of $4,160 per year. If you earn $50,000 per year, that’s a full month of your salary. Do you really want all that money to amount to a bunch of coffee and Subway sandwiches?

This isn’t to say that no one should ever buy a latte. But if I spend this kind of money every week, I don’t have anything to devote to my savings. That’s a sign that these seemingly small indulgences just aren’t affordable, at least for me.

This is why I’ve also decided not to opt for cable TV or an extensive cell phone plan. I don’t feel that I live like a pauper. After all, I have money saved that I can turn to not only in an emergency, but also to pay for things that I feel really add enjoyment to my life, rather than just distracting me for a few hours or days – and steadily subtracting dollars from my bank account.

What are your rules?

Over time, I’ve learned to save money as diligently as I pay my bills. I also try to spend what’s left as mindfully as I can. I can’t say I always succeed, that I never overspend or that I’m not often tempted to break my rules.

Nevertheless, I’m sticking to the strategy that has kept me out of debt, and helped me save enough to meet some key financial goals – and still have some fun. I know of other people who’ve done even better by employing these rules much more stringently than I do. As for me, I’ll keep saving up for my next big purchase by keeping all the little ones in check.

By Tara Struyk of MoneyTalksNews


Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.

Minister Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching at an event

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

10 New Year’s Resolutions Entrepreneurs Should Make Every Year


As we rapidly approach the New Year, it’s the time to start thinking about those resolutions that we’ll work on in 2016. The problem with resolutions is that they often fail because we’ll never reach these unreasonable and unrealistic goals. We’re entrepreneurs, we always try and conquer the unconquerable!

However, if you set goals that are achievable if you stretch yourself, New Year’s Resolutions can help you gain perspective and achieve goals that can make you a stronger individual both personally and professionally.

For myself, New Year’s Resolutions can be a valuable assist in determining my long-term success. Here are 10 New Year’s Resolutions that every entrepreneur should consider as they welcome this upcoming year.

  1. Understand your finances.

Don’t think that understanding the basics of accounting is unnecessary just because you have an accountant or even your own accounting department. The thing is, all entrepreneurs should familiarize themselves with at least accounting basics since this will help them;

  • Make financial predictions by examining future revenues, future operating costs, and assets needed to service future demand.
  • Pay off your bad debts
  • Lower your expenses as much as possible (both personal and business)
  • Measure the progress of your business so that you know whether or not you’re hitting targets.
  • Get your personal credit up as personal credit is a factor in getting business loans.
  1. Improve your health.

How do you expect to effectively run a business if you’re exhausted and burnt out? You need to be healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. Give your immune system a boost. When you eat healthy and exercise, you are more productive and happier. That means you’ll have fewer sick days and get tasks accomplished on time. Good health habits help you avoid chronic diseases including hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

  1. Become a stronger leader.

One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face is being an effective leader. This means delegating tasks, rallying the troops when morale is low, creating an environment that welcomes creativity and outside-of-the-box thinking, never losing sight of where you want your business to go.

  1. Get more social.

If for some reason you believe social media is unimportant, I’ve got some bad news for you — you’re 100 percent wrong. Social media is one of the best ways to engage and interact with customers, spread brand awareness and connect with influencers and investors in your industry. If you have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account that is dormant, spend the next year being active and optimizing these channels. It’s expected.

  1. Spend less time in the office.

Working 60 hours per week might work for someone like Elon Musk, but for most of us, that’s just isn’t feasible or desirable. Spending almost every waking minute in the office is a surefire way in getting burnt out and losing sight of why you became an entrepreneur.

Make time for yourself, friends and family. Step out of the office from time-to-time to clear your head, refresh and improve your overall health. Trust me. The place isn’t going to burn down just because you took a vacation or a long weekend.

  1. Keep up with current events.

Paying attention to the news keeps you cultured and assists in starting conversations. It provides entrepreneurs with insights into their markets so that they can make more informed decisions. Remember, we live in a small and connected world now. What’s going on around the world impacts your business.

  1. Hire smarter.

Hiring the right people is crucial for business owners. They’ll bring out the best in you and your current team. They’ll help your business grow because they’ll be your biggest brand advocates. And, low turnover keeps costs low.

Hiring isn’t easy, but attracting and retaining talent that fits in your company’s culture greatly increases your chances of success.

  1. Be more empathetic.

Empathy is “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions; and the ability to share someone else’s feelings.” It is one of the most beneficial traits an entrepreneur can possess. Communicating empathetically with customers, employees, shareholders and investors helps your business succeed. You’ll understand what’s important to them and they will appreciate that you care enough about them to make that a priority.

  1. Take some classes.

Whether it’s attending a class at your local college or participating in a free online course, learning a new skill such as accounting, marketing, programming or public speaking will make you a more well-rounded and productive entrepreneur. Here are a few amazing financial books to help you learn a bit more.

  1. Remember why you became an entrepreneur.

Regardless if you’re in a rough patch or enjoying substantial growth, never forget why you became an entrepreneur in the first place. For most of us, we had an idea to make the world a better a place in our niche. Take the time next year to remember why you embarked on the entrepreneurial journey. Use that to guide you going forward.

Here is to an amazing 2016!

By John Rampton of Entreprenuer.com