Larimer SBDC Success Story: CF&G Public Market & Coffeehouse

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

Sally Ebeling | Larimer Small Business Development Center

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

The building has a long history that begins with its original construction in 1920. You can read all about it on the café table tops! Becca’s Public Market-style layout includes a café, artisan goods, and a Farmer’s Market that runs May through October as well as an event venue.

Becca graduated from UNC Greeley before spending time in Mexico teaching at a girls’ orphanage. She came back to Colorado and started as a bilingual Spanish teacher in Greeley, but something was missing. “I liked a lot of aspects of it…but if 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 then faced, and the drive to keep going. “My heart was not going to take me easy places.”

The opportunity for space in the CF&G building presented itself in 2018 after Beerwerks set up shop next door, and the timing was right. That’s when she contacted the SBDC to learn more and start researching how she was going to 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. It can be seen and felt as soon as one walks into the building. A community space where you are fed and watered, where you can take your work or your life to a quiet corner and figure things out. It’s an experience, a heartbeat, a safe and welcoming place to gather. All of this with the influence of a bustling market one would find in a foreign city center.

What does Becca see for the future? She’s been in business for 2 years now. With every new stage of growth, every goal met, it’s a hit of endorphins. “It’s forming into the final vision. At first, it’s distant and blurry, but as you keep going it becomes clear and you think, ‘yes, this is what I meant it to be.’” She’s focusing on sustainable operations so the business can be a cultural part of this space in the community for years to come.

Her advice? “Approach everything with curiosity and it will save you head and heart aches. Say to yourself, ‘I wonder if I could….’ and be open to changing and adjusting. Lead with curiosity versus a rigid design and you will learn through that.” She credits the SBDC for help with people like her who have no history of being a business owner but want to learn the ins & outs, the nitty-gritty, of running a business. She enjoys that you can keep learning and build a solid foundation of knowledge for business with professional Consultants that can help you plan and reach your goals, no matter if you’re entry-level or advanced. “It’s a guide for practical use.” She also adds that it’s vital to have chemistry with your SBDC consultant. She has nothing but adoration for her go-to consultant, Peggy Lyle.

Fun fact: Two of the chandeliers on the main floor were from her great-grandparent’s General Store in Idaho.

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

She’s most proud of her employee, Amanda. Since joining Becca two years ago, Amanda has grown, personally and professionally in Becca’s eyes. “It was fulfilling to coach her and to see her coach others now”.

How did COVID affect operations? Like so many other small business owners, COVID was a whirlwind of many emotions. From fear to frustration to anger to sadness, the pandemic turned Becca’s day-to-day into an unpredictable mess. While she had to do the typical tasks of reworking her indoor seating, adding outdoor space, adjusting operating hours and employee schedules, etc., she also had to come to terms with the reality of her business model. She envisioned her business as a place to gather, a space for the community. It’s not something that can be replicated online, there’s no virtual alternative to meeting your neighbor for the first time because you happen to order the same type of coffee. Due to COVID, Becca struggled with both not being able to offer the one thing her business was built on and being recommitted to her community-building mission as the pandemic forced us away from our public spaces and gravely deprived us of our human need for interpersonal connection.

Since 1989, the Larimer Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) has been dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and businesses start, grow and prosper through street-smart business education and assistance throughout Larimer County.

We support the growth and resiliency of small businesses by providing free confidential business consulting, practical workshops & events, and connection to resources. Our consulting experts work in partnership to provide entrepreneurs with crucial information that can mean the difference between success and failure. Our vision is to be your premier, trusted choice for business consulting, training, and resources.

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