Saxbys CEO: My company thrived after we went bankrupt; so can the Please Touch Museum

Nick Bayer, in his first column for Billy Penn, on how filing for bankruptcy can be the best thing that happens to a company.

Inside the Please Touch Museum at Fairmount Park's Memorial Hall.

Inside the Please Touch Museum at Fairmount Park's Memorial Hall.


Just last month, the Please Touch Museum announced that it was filing for bankruptcy and embarking on a $10 million fundraising campaign. The news of Philly’s beloved interactive children’s museum being in financial distress was a blow to many who spent their childhoods pushing around shopping carts in the play supermarket, and those who now visit the Fairmount Park location with its impressive carousel.

The word “bankruptcy” does sounds scary. But trust me, it’s not a bad thing. In some cases, it’s the best thing that can happen to a company. I know this for a fact, because it’s the best thing that happened to my company, Saxbys Coffee, back in 2009. It gave us the opportunity to do more with less (now one of our company’s core values) and rebuild our brand into something we all believe in. For us, it was dealing with litigation from former shareholders. For the Please Touch Museum, it means restructuring bond debt it was saddled with after making the move from Center City to Fairmount Park.

Now, the Please Touch Museum has the same chance. And in turn, Philadelphians have a chance to be a part of the Please Touch Museum’s future — and the future of this city.

Philadelphia is a city on the rise. More people want to live here. The Pope chose to hold mass here. The New York Times lauded us as a top global travel destination, we’ve been crowned America’s 1st World Heritage City by UNESCO and the Democratic party selected us to host the DNC.

We are palpably a city on the move. And we’re very much in a time of transition. We’re reestablishing ourselves as a very good city. We just need to keep working to make the move to be great.

Here’s where the Please Touch Museum comes in. There’s no doubt that PTM is a wonderful resource for the children of this city. It’s a destination for families up and down the East Coast, and it’s right in our backyard. It’s a very good excuse to visit Philadelphia.

And sure, as the father of a toddler, I do want to secure a space for my son to play and learn. But it goes beyond that. I want to ensure future generations of Philly kids have the same thing. As our city grows, let’s be sure to hold on to the stuff that sets us apart — not just the one-of-a-kind institutions like Please Touch, but the sense of super-sized pride for these institutions that makes Philly, well, Philly.

So that’s why I’m stepping up to support the Please Touch Museum, and that’s why I’m asking my fellow Philadelphians to take up this cause too. And I know we won’t be alone. This month, my company held a fundraiser for the Please Touch Museum — we had a little fun so that Philly’s kids could have more fun. I had the opportunity to stand next to Mayor Michael Nutter and PTM’s outgoing and incoming CEOs Lynn McMaster and Patricia Wellenbach. We swapped stories about what the museum has meant for our kids, for us, and for the constantly changing city that we lived in. I know you have a story too.

And I hope it will inspire you to join me and stand up for Please Touch.

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Founder / CEO, Saxbys Coffee

Saxbys CEO Nick Bayer started Saxbys Coffee in 2005 because he wanted to provide a welcoming space with consistently good coffee. Since then — thanks to an unparalleled focus on hospitality and community — Saxbys has expanded to 30 cafés. Nick lives in Rittenhouse with his wife, Hally, and son, Luke.