Success is Brewing for Jennifer Chandler and The Village Brew Coffee House
The Village Brew is a community-minded, independent coffee house in Piketon, Ohio, that recently opened in the historic and beautifully renovated Schoolhouse on the Square, located at 425 E. 2nd Street, in Piketon. The Village Brew serves coffee, specialty coffee, baked goods, grab-and-go healthy lunches, and snacks. In addition, they showcase products for sale from local artisans and makers.
Owner Jennifer Chandler said the idea to open the coffee shop came from visiting bigger cities and experiencing coffee and local flavors. She observed how coffee shops are the heart of the community. When the time came to launch, Jennifer found economic development resources and local people to help, including OVRDC with the Business Sustainability Loan Program. Read on to learn more about how this delicious business is brewing community and success one cup at a time.
• How did you come up with the idea for the business?
Jennifer Chandler: I used to travel a lot for work, and I always sought out the independent coffee house to experience the local community vibe. I loved that experience, plus I love great coffee! I would always come home and talk about how I wish someone would start an independent coffee house in Piketon. My husband said, why don’t you start one? I did some market research, estimated the startup costs, and discovered an awesome coffee supplier with high-quality, delicious products that also provide technical assistance to independent coffee houses. I then chose a location that I consider to be the crown jewel of Piketon, The Schoolhouse on The Square. I knew I wanted to be an integral part of that amazing restoration project!!
• What was it like to work with OVRDC on the Sustainability Loan program application process?
Jennifer Chandler: OVRDC has an incredible staff full of knowledge and very professional – the process was very straightforward with no surprises. Overall, it was a smooth process. I highly recommend the program to anyone starting or expanding their business.
• Who helped you start the business? Do you have regional partners or anyone you want to give a shoutout to for helping you get started?
Jennifer Chandler: I am the sole owner of the business, but I could not have done it without the overwhelming support of my husband and my children- they put up with our house being a complete disaster during the startup phase. We began with pop-up markets in the park. The Village of Piketon is very pro-business, and when I asked about popping up in the park on Saturdays to sell coffee, it was an enthusiastic yes. My staff is amazing, and they are invested in the mission and vision of the business. We value excellence, kindness, and community, and everyone at the Village Brew strives to demonstrate those characteristics with every drink we serve.
• Any advice to other entrepreneurs on what challenges to expect and what are the rewards to owning your own business?
Jennifer Chandler: Be ready to work! The nice thing is your success is up to you! Know your market, love your product and be willing to perform every single job in the business. There are lots of administrative tasks involved, so engage a good accountant and invest in the tools that will help you manage the daily operations. Surround yourself with talented people who are diverse to add value to your business and be appreciative of every opportunity to make a customer’s experience meaningful.
• What is next for The Village Brew?
Jennifer Chandler: We are expanding our services to include events and some evening activities. We are partnering with local entrepreneurs to bring their products to market at the Village Brew. We want to be a platform from which new businesses can launch. We have several young talented people creating and selling unique products in our shop. We may need to expand our space to accommodate all the good things that are happening here! But no matter what we do next, our focus is on brewing excellent coffee for our amazing customers every day.
Since 2020, OVRDC has seen a 300% increase in loan closings for area businesses and has been working diligently to help the region’s businesses not only survive but thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Loan Review Committee was instrumental in developing a new loan product to quickly provide cash flow to businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. The new loan fund is the OVRDC Business Sustainability Loan for small business owners and sole proprietors located in Adams, Brown, Clermont, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto, or Vinton Counties in Ohio.
It is easy to pre-apply online and applicants will be contacted within 2 business days to move the process forward. Go online now to apply or contact Michele or Stephanie for more details, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) was provided an additional $1.5 billion in CARES Act funding to help communities with the impact of COVID-19. EDA provided its network of Economic Development Districts, of which OVRDC is one, the opportunity to submit non-competitive applications for a portion of this funding. OVRDC submitted and received $550,000 in EDA CARES Act funding to start up the Business Sustainability Loan program.