LEBANON, VA (FEBRUARY 7, 2020) –Gabby Range has always loved the business of coffee and has always been interested in starting and operating her own business. When the opportunity presented itself to combine the two, she and partner, Lindsey Kegley, of Cleveland, Va., opened The Local Mercantile LLC, — known as The Local — a coffee shop and store selling local arts, crafts, food and more. The Local Mercantile LLC is a recent recipient of a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) $10,000 seed capital matching grant.
“The Local Mercantile LLC is really like two businesses in one,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director, general counsel. “With the coffee house as one part and the mercantile as the other, both have opportunities to grow and uniquely to share customers in one location. Because the business also provides other opportunities for regional artisans and craftspeople to sell their merchandise, it also helps to support job growth in the community. The Local’s business model is one very well-suited to the seed capital grant program.”
Currently, the business employs one full-time and three part-time employees. Within three years, it is projected another full-time job will be added.
Range and Kegley opened The Local on 56 W. Main Street in Lebanon in June. The coffee bar features regular and gourmet coffees, espressos and teas, as well as a small breakfast and lunch menu. The mercantile side of the business features local products from area arts and craftspeople and offers local vendors the ability to rent floor space and to offer their items for sale on a commission basis. Local meats, cheese, wine, chocolate, baked goods, custom furniture, handcrafted leather products, apparel, paintings and other art are among the products sold.
A meeting room in the upstairs portion of the business is available to be rented by members of the community looking for a place to gather.
“With The Local, we want to foster the community and promote local living,” Range said. “It offers an atmosphere where old friends and new friends can gather over a cup of coffee and at the same time, shop for some of the finest local foods and craftsmanship the region has to offer.”
Range said vendor numbers at The Local are between 25 and 30 at any given time. Among the vendor list, she said are those which offer fresh, local organic products including Ridge & Valley Farms, Goshen Homestead, Lyttle Farm, Datil Sensations, Highlands Farms and more.
“We hope to be a feeder location for others who want to start a small business by providing a low risk environment for them to test their products in the market,” Range said of the mercantile side of the business.
“The VCEDA seed capital grant has helped us tremendously,” she said. “We needed a new HVAC system in this 102-year-old house, which while beautiful, does come with maintenance issues. Being able to use the grant for that has allowed us to put more money into inventory and working capital. We want to be in this for the long run and we’re continuing to reinvest in the business.”
Range noted the business was also recently approved for a revitalization grant through the Town of Lebanon.
In developing the application for the VCEDA seed capital grant, Range worked with Margie Douglass, director of the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College. The application also received a letter of support from the Russell County Industrial Development Authority.
The Local Mercantile LLC is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and may be reached by calling 276-415-9199. The business is also found on Facebook.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.