This post is was originally published on The Penny Hoarder

Charles Dorsey looks at a product to buy from Allan Bednar, owner of Simply Hydroponics and Organics in Largo, Fla., on Dec. 6, 2017. Bednar is giving his business away to the person who writes the best essay on why he or she wants to own his shop. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

If you’ve got a green thumb, a knack for writing and $115 lying around, you could score a hydroponics gardening business in paradise.

Well, in Largo, Florida.

A little bored and tired of the retail grind, 53-year-old Allan Bednar wants to give away Simply Hydroponics and Organics next year. To weed out unworthy potential owners, he’s launched an essay contest that runs through March 15.

“We’ve had the shop pushing 26 years now,” he said. “Doing the same thing for that length of time wears thin, and I’m sort of feeling stagnant.”

This is a serious offer — he’s not just blowing smoke.

Bednar is blunt about his aim: it’s not a philanthropic gesture. He’s trying to make more than $700,000 to pay for the land, business and inventory.

Still, he wants to make someone’s dream come true.

“Don’t think that I’m that generous that I’m giving it all away,” he said. “But I’m hoping to put a big smile on someone’s face.”

How to Win This Florida Hydroponic Business

The essay contest to win ownership of Simply Hydroponics and Organics runs through March 15, 2018. The essay contest to win ownership of Simply Hydroponics and Organics runs through March 15, 2018. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

To enter the contest, which began Aug. 15, you’ll need to pay a $100 entry fee, plus $15 for handling, and submit a 250-word essay on why you want to own this hydroponics gardening joint.

Here’s a quick hint for newbies who want to enter: Hydroponics refers to raising plants without the use of soil — or even the sun, in some cases. And, if you don’t already know, this type of cultivation is popular with, uh, marijuana enthusiasts.

You have to be 18 or older to enter the contest, and you can submit as many essays as you’d like, as long as you pay the $115 each time. In fact, a local veteran actually started a GoFundMe to bankroll his essay attempts.

And don’t get too stressed about your grammar skills.

“It’s more about finding the right person than finding the perfect essay,” Bednar said.

Andrew Villanueva sets up a display at Simply Hydroponics and Organics.Andrew Villanueva sets up a display at Simply Hydroponics and Organics. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

He got the idea from similar win-this-business essay contests (though it’s not quite as unique as the one for the goat farm.)

Bednar will narrow the entries down to his favorite 25, then a panel of judges — including authors, a shaman and a priestess/yoga instructor — will choose the winner.

After a 30-day transition period, the deed will go to the winner.

Bednar said in the fine print that if the contest doesn’t get 7,000 submissions, he has the option to return everyone’s cash and keep the business. He’s received 300 so far.

Whoever wins the contest is bound to use the land for a hydroponics business for at least a year. After that, the owner could decide to do something else with the property.

“That would be disappointing, but I can’t dictate people’s lives and their futures,” Bednam said. “I live near it, and I want to keep driving by with a smile on my face knowing it’s still there.”

You Could Win More Than Just a Hydroponic Business

Bednar stocks up his shelves at Simply Hydroponics and Organics.Bednar stocks his shelves at Simply Hydroponics and Organics. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

The essay-contest winner will get a lot more than a store and some land.

“This industry is getting ready to explode,” Bednar said, who also noted his website gets a half-million hits every year. “Especially in Florida with the legalization of medical cannabis.”

There are two employees who will stay on if the new owner isn’t a jerk, Bednar explained, plus a forklift, computer system, all of the inventory — and an actual living beehive.

And while irate and impatient customers can make retail a stressful industry, Bednar said you won’t be dealing with too many of those types of folks at Simply Hydroponics and Organics.

“If you’re a stressed out, Type-A person, you don’t even have the patience to deal with gardening,” he said. “Our customers are the type who you’d like to have a beer and a good conversation with.”

Right now, the 5,000-square-foot property is worth $168,000, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser.

As for Bednar, he’ll be taking a job with a hydroponics nutrients company, which he said has been trying to recruit him for for 15 years.

“It’s been a lot of fun and I wouldn’t have done anything different,” he said. “It’s just time to move on.”

A woman shops at Simply Hydroponics and Organics in Largo, Fla.Bednar sees stores like the one he will be giving away growing in the future, especially with medical marijuana now being legal in Florida. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He’d totally enter to win this store, but he’s holding out for his father-in-law’s pizza joint.


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