Project 2021, part 25: Triad couple reflects on opening new business during the pandemic

Project 2021

(WGHP) — There seem to be some things that would be relatively apparent in business. One might be: “Don’t open a new retail business in a pandemic.”

Evan and Katie Tanner don’t swim in the mainstream.

Katie is a hairstylist in Reidsville and Evan spent most of the last few years as an associate pastor at a church in Greensboro. They had other dreams, though, and looked at a building near where they live that became available. It was big enough for Katie to move her salon into one portion and run a coffee shop out of the rest – Evan’s brother, Danny Tanner, is an experienced restaurant manager, and it just seemed to make sense. But they didn’t get that building and soon afterward, went to meet with a woman who owned a coffee and pastry shop down the road.

“And went to that meeting with her and she was like, ‘I think I’m ready to sell, COVID just kind of beat me up and doing it by yourself is really hard. So, if you guys want to think about it,’” said Evan, recounting their meeting with the owner. “And we were like, ‘We’ll definitely think about it.’ And we got in the car and we were like, ‘We’ll definitely do it.’”

That’s how, “The Collective” – the name of their coffee shop that they want to be a community meeting place – came to be.

But their changes weren’t over.

“We went to graduation in May and we were sitting in the bleachers and I looked over at Katie and I said, ‘I feel like I’m not doing enough with students. I feel like I have the ability to make an impact and I’m not doing enough that I could be doing,” Evan said.

And, before they left that graduation, the person teaching Bible study at Rockingham County High School said she was leaving the position and Evan would be great for it. He got the job and it is, indeed, working out well.

“It’s challenged the way I get to connect with young people about the bible because I take more of a life-lessons approach,” Evan said. “I don’t teach religion or spirituality. I teach like, Adam and Eve – Adam was in solitude; it’s good for man to be in solitude but, at some point, he needs someone. Like, we’re not created to be alone.”

So, Evan works at the coffee shop before school begins – a dynamic he and Katie were warned about by friends: Don’t work with your spouse!

But Katie says it’s been great.

“It was really cool because it challenged our relationship in a positive way,” she said.

It is a big investment but Evan insists it doesn’t tie them down.

“We have big plans for this and not just for this, but more,” Evan said. “And I told Katie, let’s pay off this business debt as soon as possible because, if two years from now, we’re like, ‘Let’s do something else,’ we can sell this and we can go do whatever we want.”

See the coffee shop and Evan teaching in this edition of Project 2021.

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