Ep. 11: Coffee, Conviviality, and Community with Guest Margaret Thompson

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Today's episode was unique in several ways, especially because it was our first in-person interview for Success Defined. I found myself in Greeley, Colorado where Margie's Java Joint coffee shop owner Margaret Thompson sat down with me to talk about business ownership, the growing pains of starting a new company, and the unique position she has had in taking over a formerly family owned operation. 

Margaret's parents, Ron and Linde Thompson, started Margie's Java Joint in the same location back in 1992, when Margaret was just a year old. They ran the business until 2001 when they sold the business and endeavored into another local business called Kress Cinema and Lounge.

Margaret and her partner Justin Ghofrani took over management at the Kress in 2014, where she learned the ins and outs of running a business. After running the local art cinema for a few years, they reopened a 1908 “Speakeasy” in the basement of the same building of downtown Greeley. It wasn't until 2018 when she took on Margie's Java Joint. 

"I spent the first ten years of my life literally crawling around the original Margie's. It was very nostalgic for me, now being in that space, because it was such a big part of my childhood," Margaret said. "That's a big part of the reason I wanted to do it, because I had so many great memories of Margie's from when I was growing up." 

After her parents moved on from owning Margie's, the business went through a few different hands including a separate coffee shop and a local market. But now, more than two and a half decades since its origin, the business is back in family hands.

As with any new business, the initial setup is intense and always more complicated than a business owner anticipates. Margaret has encountered the struggle of customers who were familiar with the previous ownership and don't like the changes. She has toed the line on pricing since the coffee shop's beans are from a nearby ethically roasted, single origin, artisan distributor, Harbinger Coffee. 

"Harbinger coffee is different. It's more unique than what people are used to," Margaret said. "They call it third-wave coffee. It's very bright and floral sometimes, and citrusy even at times. It's not what people traditionally think of. Our coffee is a different experience." 

Though the cost of a cup of coffee starts at $3, which seems steep to some, Margaret knows the cost is worth the product. The coffee itself is expensive for her to purchase, and must be sold accordingly. But, in turn, she strives to make all the food items as affordable as possible while using the highest quality ingredients. 

As an aesthetically driven business owner, Margaret has renovated the interior of the building to reflect the intention of the business. "I really like creating things, I really I like to surround myself with pretty things and I always have liked to have my living space have that same kind of coziness that I've tried to bring to Margie’s," she said.

Listen in on the full episode to hear more of Margaret's mission, the trials she's encountered, and, of course, how she defines success.

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