Hometown grind: couple brings coffee to Tazewell

Venus and Mike Laney knew their hometown of Tazewell needed a coffee shop. Rumors would come and go of potential venues opening, but as time ticked by nothing happened. The couple decided to take matters into their own hands.

With the perfect historic building in the center of downtown Tazewell already in mind for The Well Coffee Shop, the Laneys set out to bring fresh, hot coffee to their friends and neighbors, one cup at a time. “Things really fell into place for us to be in that space,” says Mike, referring to The Well’s location.

After signing the lease in February 2017, the Laneys opened the Well Coffee Shop for business in June. Mike and Venus both work full-time jobs outside of the coffee shop and lacked experience with entrepreneurship. They were delighted to find an ally with Margie Douglass, Program Manager at the Southwest Virginia Community College SBDC. Margie helped the Laneys identify, apply, and win a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority grant to fund their business.

“Margie was awesome,” Mike says. “She helped us through every part of the process, including identifying which type of grant we should apply for based on our needs. Once we decided which one we were going for, she helped us through countless revisions of our proposal,” he adds.

Venus is grateful to Margie for pointing them in the right direction. “Without Margie’s guidance, we would not have known that this program was even a possibility for us,” she says.

As The Well Coffee Shop settles into its new home in the heart of Tazewell, the Laneys are optimistic about the future. “I don’t have a degree in anything,” Mike says jokingly, “But each day our doors are open is a huge accomplishment.”

With the help of the SBDC, The Well Coffee Shop won a grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and employs 5 part-time staff members.
Virginia SBDC