TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Tess Vigeland: Beverly Davis was 44 when she bought her first house back in 2006. She paid $134,000 for a three bedroom, ranch-style house in Fairburn, Ga. A year later, she lost her job. This year, her home went into foreclosure. But she’s trying to buy it back at auction in a few weeks. How? Cornbread. Davis started what she hopes will become a cornbread empire.
Beverly, welcome to the show.
Beverly Davis: Thank you for having me.
Vigeland: Let me start with the first basic question, why cornbread?
Davis: It’s a passion of mine. I actually love it and I was raised on it. My grandmother taught me how to cook cornbread and quite a few other dishes, and I figured a lot of other people would like it too.
Vigeland: And I know you’re making all kinds of things, not just the cornbread itself. But like pot pies with the cornbread crust, that sort of thing. What’s your favorite?
Davis: Yeah. My favorite is the oven-baked hush puppy cornbread squares.
Vigeland: Oh, now you’ve got me hungry. Is there a secret to those?
Davis: Well, the secret really is in the oil or the grease. Just making sure that it’s sizzling hot before you pour in the batter and that gives you the crispy crust on the outside and the moist bread on the inside.
Vigeland: All right. Well, let’s get down to brass tacks here, and you know, you’ve been through this whole foreclosure proceeding and I do have to ask, why not just leave the house and rent?
Davis: Everybody says that. But you know what, it’s the principle of the matter. I’m a fighter by nature, and I look at it this way: I lost a job and I couldn’t find another one. I feel like it was just taken away from me. I don’t know how to explain that. And I feel like, you know what, creativity and faith can help me get it back.
Vigeland: Tell us why owning a home is so important to you.
Davis: My mother never owned a house, OK? I’m the eldest of five children and the first one to ever buy a house. And I wanted to be a symbol of overcoming adversity. You know, certainly I lost it. But I don’t have to end on a lost note, I can come back and get it. And leave it in my family, not only for my nieces and nephews, but for the children in my neighborhood to know what — if you ever go through anything difficult like this, you can leave it on a positive note. And that can inspire a whole lot of people and I hope that makes sense.
Vigeland: How much money are you needing to raise at this point?
Davis: I’m getting a little excited, so I’ll try not to stutter when I talk, a little sensitive, but it’s $80,000. And the products are selling very well. And we’re estimating the auction date to be within three weeks. So I’ve got 21 days to go for it.
Davis: And I believe I can do it.
Vigeland: How are you selling that much cornbread?
Davis: People ask me that a lot. They think I’m baking cornbread and like selling it in skillets, which is cool. I can do that too. But actually what I’ve done, I’ve designed what’s called Bev’s Cornbread Mix. And I’ve put together my own ingredients straight from the grocer’s shelf, so to speak. All you’ve got to do is add eggs, buttermilk and bake it. And I package it inside a cast-iron skillet and sell it as a gift set. And those are going for $40 a set. I’ve also written an e-book with my grandmother’s basic recipes and recipes that I’ve created myself and e-books are going for $10. I’ve also put together a collection of bumper stickers with inspirational quotes, and of course, CornbreadMillionaire.com at the bottom. And those are selling well. You know what, once I went through my adversity and came out of it, I realized the power of having multiple income strings. So that revelation is helping me to raise the money.
Vigeland: So you don’t want to be just the cornbread lady, you want to be the cornbread millionaire?
Davis: Exactly. You know what, I figure we’re going to dream, let’s dream big.
Vigeland: All right. Well Beverly Davis, we’re going to check back with you and see how things are going and see if you’re going to keep your house. Thanks so much for talking with us.
Davis: It’s a pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.
Vigeland: And we will check in with Beverly next week to see how she’s doing, raising that $80,000.
Marketplace is on a mission.
We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.
Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?