Ok, so I may not have phrased exactly like that, but it seemed the real ball got rolling on one exhausted morning when I had arrived home from a long night shift.
A conversation with some colleagues about the poor quality of the “house brew” in the employee lounge had soon led into an earnest discussion about the dearth of any quality purveyors within a 35-mile radius.
By the time I arrived home that morning, my mind was humming with possibilities. Like a momma bird about to drop a big fat worm on her hatchlings, I was going to let loose one of those BIG flaming ideas that has changed our lives over the course of our marriage.
Oh! I felt so clever, so why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-sooner clever, that I didn’t even begin to consider the pragmatic. The who’s, what’s, and where’s were still a good way beneath the “we could totally do this!” excitement.
Candace’s reaction was anti-climactic, at best. Upon hearing my suggestion, her face registered all the wonder and surprise of my suggesting that perhaps we could eat Supper that evening. Yeah, I may as well have suggested that it would be a great idea that the Sun decide to set at the end of a day… for Candace was well ahead of me. She even suggested a bloody clever name: Mad Mare’s (an oblique reference to the local mascot as well as the nursery rhyme)
However, this did nothing to hinder my enthusiasm… quite the contrary. Since she had already been considering certain local buildings, nearby suppliers, and even what hours of operation would be feasible at the outset.
Immediately we started bouncing ideas off of each other and we began to hammer down the essential attributes of our vision. We were each getting increasingly excited.
We could do this, we could totally do this!
So we started talking to others around town, local business owners whom we knew and could trust, and we considered the “overhead” and other nuts & bolts of starting a business. Renting versus buying a location. Necessary equipment costs. Profit margins. These conversations continue even to this very day and will likely continue indefinitely
Candace has already talked with Distant Lands Coffee in Tyler, a local supplier, and they were keen to include an Overton location on one of their routes… we would be between Mojoe’s in Henderson and the Java House in Liberty City, along the HWY 31 corridor.
We also have some friends in Oklahoma who have started a successful cafe in a small town outside of Norman, with a similar set of circumstances and limitations to us. Candace and I hope to gain invaluable perspective from them when we visit late this Summer.
Candace worked at Starbucks for five years, learning all the while from the wisdom/folly of a motley array of managers and colleagues. She knows what is needed to make a coffeehouse run well and what to avoid, the rest can be researched or learned in the process.
Neither of us is apprehensive about working hard, nor are we foolish enough to think success is a foregone conclusion. Even a small success must first be preceded by a lot of work.
Even as we continue to seek the insights of these “in the business” as well as other trusted friends of wise counsel, I have to admit that our confidence is high.
Aside from purveying caffeinated beverages, I confess that I have some ulterior motives to this… not least of which being to provide a possible artistic haven for the community. A gallery and venue.
I have an old friend whom I would like to bring his extemporaneous rhetorical and social networking skills to host a local poetry event. Another old friend is a brilliant visual artist whom I have already conscripted to design the logo as well as to provide a number of works on canvas. Another friend could be consistently called upon to perform unceasing acoustic sets for the pittance of a bottomless cup o’ Joe.
Books will be ever-present and each tabletop will contain 64 squares of alternating color. Music of genres diverse shall pour forth from a state-of-the-art sound system yet another old friend (who happens to own just such a business) will provide. I will solicit churches to host small-group meetings and ply my local constables with free house blend for their late-night shifts.
Word has already gone out into our little town, and a groundswell is building. If I had a quarter for every person who has asked me when we are opening our doors, I would already have a month’s rent on a downtown storefront. Seriously.
At present, there is no official “start date” other than our decision to not begin until everything is ready and the weather has cooled considerably. We would be opening our doors this Autumn at the extreme earliest, but it is perhaps more realistic to aim towards the next Autumn… were it not for the particular zeal of a few potential investors whom I hear from on a day-to-day basis.
Oh, but there is more to tell. More to tell than time to tell it all. The question is not the “how and why” but to “do or die” …plans within plans and many rough edges to smooth into a coherent structure.
The Scriptures teach that a man considers his way but it is the LORD Whom establishes his steps… and verily it is so. Though our hearts incline towards this ambition, our trust is Him.
May it be His will to bless this venture, or not. Whatever our lot, it is well.