Small business finds niche, success in Northwoods

Play VideoEAGLE RIVER – A lot of people dream about owning their own small business in the Northwoods.

In Eagle River, coffee seems to be a key ingredient to help make that dream come true.

My husband and I – that was always something that we have dreamed about doing eventually when our kids got a little bit older, said Blend co-owner Angie Anderson.

She and her husband, Peter, opened a coffee shop called Blend in September 2012.

We just wanted to create a really cool, fun, environment for Eagle River where people can just come in and be themselves, have great coffee, have great conversation, great food, and just make it a really fun place to be, Angie Anderson explained.

Eagle River has a year-round population of just 1,4000 with at least two other year-round coffee shops.

The Andersons knew they had a challenge.

For us, it was just trying to find our own little niche…Our niche is a fun, quirky place to be. You know, its always kind of loud here. Theres lots of energy. Theres always lots of kids and moms and dads, Anderson said.

When her kids were younger, Angie Anderson didnt feel like she had a place to take her children during the day.

Thats why she was sure to include books and games for kids at Blend.

It’s paid off.

More than half of the shops year-round business comes from moms and children.

Blend sees a 75% increase in business during the summer.

It stays open at night for live music and also serves beer and wine.

It just opens up a wider variety of an audience that can come in, Anderson explained.

Thats also the reason the shop offers breakfast pastries, sandwiches and homemade soups.

But with a much smaller population in the winter months, the owners know they have to limit hours to stay afloat.

Even though its an hour or two each day, at the end of the month, at the end of the year, it will make a difference.

A lot of people cut back on costs when the economy struggles. One of the first things to go could be buying that cup of coffee.

But the Andersons say they havent seen that.

I definitely think that people still like to come in and get that cup of coffee…just becoming such good friends and family with us, I think that they will always come in and support us, Angie Anderson said.

Her advice for small business owners in the Northwoods is simple.

There are two different things. For one, its perseverance. And this time of year when it does start to slow down, thats just when you dig your heels in and work hard, and make it happen. And secondly, we love what we do. We tremendously love all of our customers and friends and I think if you combine those two things, it makes for great success, she said.

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