Woman raffling off business after buyers can’t get loans

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STONEVILLE, N.C. -- When several interested buyers for Martha Martin's popular store couldn't get bank loans, she decided to go a completely different route and hold a raffle.

Through September, Martin is selling raffles to Summertime Tan and Gifts in Stoneville in northwestern Rockingham County. The raffles are $100 a ticket.

If she sells 1,200 tickets, the winner will get the building and everything in it.

"You walk in, and I walk out," Martin said, laughing.

In case you're wondering about the raffle's legality, it has been approved by both state and county officials.

Open for the past six years, the business is home to the only tanning salon in the area.

"It's a really good business," Martin said. "I have wonderful customers. I know just about every one of them by name when they walk in the door."

The store has more than 400 regular customers, but Martin, 65, said it's about time to retire.

"I just would like to rest a while and not have to know that I have to get out of bed in the morning," Martin said.

She's been trying to sell her business, but the problem isn't a lack of buyers. Instead, those buyers have told her, the banks are reluctant to give out small business loans.

But then she got an idea.

"I saw where these people had tried to sell their home, and they couldn't, so they raffled it off. So I thought, 'What a great idea,'" Martin said.

The 1,200 tickets would cover the purchase price of $120,000. If she doesn't meet the goal, she will refund all the money.

Martin said someone could generate $50,000 to $60,000 a year at the store thanks to the loyal clientele.

Others who might want to raffle off their own businesses are encouraged to check with their local officials first as regulations may differ from county to county.