Larimer SBDC Success Story: CF&G Public Market and Coffee House – North Forty News | Region & Cash

CF&G Public Market & Coffeehouse owned and operated by Becca Bay (Photo by Sally Ebeling)

Sally Ebeling | Larimer Small Business Development Center

Located in the historic Colorado Feed & Grain Landmark in the heart of Timnath, the CF&G Public Market & Coffeehouse is owned and operated by Becca Bay.

The building has a long history beginning with its original construction in 1920. You can read all about it on the cafe table tops! Becca’s public market-style layout includes a cafe, crafts, and farmers’ market, which runs May through October, as well as an entertainment venue.

Becca graduated from UNC Greeley before spending time in Mexico teaching at a girls’ orphanage. She came back to Colorado and started teaching bilingual Spanish in Greeley, but something was missing. “I liked a lot of aspects of it … but when I’m in a school I love, with kids I love, and it’s still not working for me, something needs to change.” Teaching prepared her for the challenges she would then face and the urge to keep going. “My heart wouldn’t take me to easy places.”

The opportunity for space in the CF&G building arose in 2018 after Beerwerks set up shop next door and the timing was right. It was then that she contacted SBDC to learn more and research how she would do this. She had been helping her parents with their business and wanted to learn more. Her growth as a business owner is evident in the transformation of the space. You can see and feel this as soon as you enter the building. A common room where you get fed and watered, where you can take your work or life to a quiet corner and find things out. It’s an experience, a heartbeat, a safe and welcoming meeting place. All this with the impact of a busy market one would find in a foreign inner city.

What does Becca see for the future? She has been in business for 2 years now. With every new phase of growth, every goal achieved, it’s a whiff of endorphins. “It forms into the final vision. At first it’s far away and fuzzy, but as you move on it becomes clear and you’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I meant.’” She focuses on sustainable operations so business can be a cultural part of the space in which community for years to come.

your advice? “Approach anything with curiosity and it will save you a headache and heartache. Say to yourself, “I wonder if I could…” and be open to change and adjustment. Lead with curiosity, not rigid design, and you will learn from it.” She credits SBDC with helping people like her who have no business history yet but want to learn the ins and outs of running a business . She enjoys that you can continue to learn and build a solid knowledge base for the business, whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, with professional advisors who can help you plan and achieve your goals. “It’s a guide for practical application.” She also adds that it’s important to have chemistry with your SBDC advisor. She has nothing but adoration for her advisor, Peggy Lyle.

Fun fact: Two of the downstairs chandeliers came from her great-grandparents’ general store in Idaho.

CF&F Public Market employs 1 full-time and 2 part-time staff and is home to The Pig & The Plow Bakery.

She is most proud of her co-worker Amanda. Since joining Becca two years ago, Amanda has seen Becca’s growth both personally and professionally. “It was fulfilling to coach her and see her now coaching others.”

How has COVID impacted operations? Like so many other small business owners, COVID has been a whirlwind of many emotions. From fear to frustration to anger to sadness, the pandemic has turned Becca’s everyday life into an unpredictable mess. In addition to the typical tasks such as redesigning the interior seating, adding outdoor areas, adjusting operating hours and employee schedules, etc., she also had to deal with the reality of her business model. She envisioned her company as a place to gather, a space for community. This cannot be replicated online, there is no virtual alternative to the first meeting with the neighbor because you happen to order the same type of coffee. Due to COVID, Becca struggled with not being able to offer what her business was built on and felt a renewed commitment to her mission of building communities as the pandemic forced us out of our public spaces and seriously engaged with our human needs connection deprived of interpersonal relationships.

Since 1989, the Larimer Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) has been dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and businesses start, grow and thrive through intelligent business education and support throughout Larimer County.

We support small business growth and resilience by offering free confidential business advice, hands-on workshops and events, and connection to resources. Our consulting experts work in partnership to provide entrepreneurs with critical information that can make the difference between success and failure. Our vision is to be your first and trusted choice for business advice, training and resources.

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