Ok, so I guess some of you may be wondering what it is exactly that I’m doing here in Portland and what the story behind all this is. Well, I guess I’ll back track a little bit and share what my motivation has been. Now watch out because I’m about to get transparent.
Let me start off by saying that I’m an incredibly blessed man. God has provided me with a beautiful and supportive family (my wife has to have a sense of humor and God like patience to put up with me), a great home, and a job that provides for us well and leaving us wanting for not much. So I must say that I’ve got it rather good for all intents and purposes but there has just been that “something” missing for a while. That something has been a real sense of purpose; a sense that I’m doing something that makes a difference not only to the world but also to God.
Like I said, God has provided me with a great job. I’ve got flexibility, great benefits, good pay, and educational opportunities, (my employer has footed the bill for me to complete my bachelors and masters degrees) but with all of that, after I’ve been there 20 or 30 years what will it really amount to? Will I have made a real difference for God or will I have fulfilled his ultimate purpose for my life? I’ve had a feeling deep in myself that feels like there is just something else, something more that I’ve been put here to do. I think God has given me certain abilities and talents and I’m not sure that sitting behind a keyboard and a couple of computers screens baby sitting servers is really the best way for me to use those abilities that God has given me.
So for the past several years I’ve been asking God to please show me what it is that he’s put me here for. I’ve been asking God to show me his purpose and really direct me to fulfilling that purpose. Well, it seems that over the past several months God has allowed me to make some breakthroughs. I’ve gotten to the place where I understand that the “American dream” that we’re all brought up to strive for is a bunch of bunk really? No, I don’t mean that having a great job and a living in a wonderful place is bunk, but in our society we’re brought up to chase after the high paying job, the job with the most prestige, to live in the biggest house you can possibly afford (or not afford as we’re seeing so commonly today), and to drive the new expensive car or have the latest water toys or whatever. This is what our society equates success too. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not judging anyone because I’ve bought into this whole idea too, until recently.
God has shown me recently that “real success” is not all of those things that the world tells you they are. Real success in life is being where God wants you to be which ultimately means being where you feel real purpose and fulfillment. Nnow, the hope is that God will allow that thing that brings you purpose and fulfillment to also bring you a comfortable living, but the truth is, that may not always be the case. You know what though; I have friends that probably don’t have that big of a bank account, but they have a joy that some folks I know with huge bank accounts don’t have. The reason they have this joy is because they’re where God wants them to be and they’re working to fulfill his purpose. Not to say they don’t have bad days or days where they doubt what they’re doing but in their gut they feel that they’re where God wants them.
So let me get to how I ended up at the place I am today. I don’t recall what it was that necessarily gave me this thought (I guess it was just a God thing) but I was really searching out the answer to the question, “if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, what is it that I’d want to do?” That question had been so hard for me to answer for some reason. I knew that I wanted to do something that would make a difference; something that I could really enjoy. So while, driving through “old downtown” Conway I was just looking around as I drove and noticed an empty store and for some reason I thought, “it’d be cool if there was a cool, trendy little coffee shop there,” and I thought, “ hmmmm… maybe that’s it.”
“Coffee….. Why Coffee,” is typically the question I get when I share this idea with most people. But, what came to mind when I thought of a coffee shop was a coffee shop out in Georgia that my cousin works for currently. They buy “fair trade” coffee from Rwandan widows and then roast it here in the States and sell it to support a ministry that the owner of the shop (who’s also a pastor I believe) has. So by purchasing this coffee these Rwandan women are afforded a better way of life and something to take pride in. When I heard that idea I loved it because it was making a difference in the life of people a world away, but I also want to make a difference where I live, involving the people in my community.
So, I thought, I want to provide a place that is a positive place to be. A place where people can hang out and relax, that has a good and uplifting environment. So, the idea of opening a coffee shop really started to come alive in me. The thing is though, that for a little while, I had the hardest time answering the question, “Why Coffee.” Then it hit me. Coffee shops tend to encapsulate many of the things that I grew up enjoying and appreciating when I was younger, and that I still enjoy. Those things are: art, music, people/relationships, and generally a cool place to relax. That was it! That’s why the idea of a coffee shop really appeals to me. All those things fit into that desire I’ve had in me to be an entrepreneur. All those things if put together correctly could allow me to create something positive for people in my community, and all at the same time providing a living for my family.
So, okay, that’s it in a nutshell….. hahahahha….. that’s a big nutshell huh? So that’s why I’m in Portland, Oregon, to learn a little bit about this business and how I could implement it myself. Portland after all is the independent coffee shop capitol of the U.S.