On a sparkling day at the tail end of winter Woodlands Development & Lending joined Nicole Coe and a host of her family and supporters to cut the ribbon on her new business: Coe’s Country Store, in French Creek, WV in Upshur County. Coe’s Country Store is a convenience store designed to meet the needs of a remote, rural area. The large, clean building, nestled 24 miles south of the county seat, Buckhannon, stocks all the expected snack and drink favorites but also features a rotating selection of locally made favorites like BBQ, hot dogs, biscuits & gravy, and even fresh produce in season. A picnic area and camping are available on site. Ms. Coe has plans to install gas pumps soon.

Located near the Upshur/Lewis County line, well off the beaten path, by all accounts French Creek qualifies as a food desert where residents must travel a significant distance to access daily necessities. Ms. Coe expects Coe’s Country Store to serve her local community and be a valuable amenity to tourists traveling through en route to events, festivals, or the WV Game Farm down the road.

Coe, a mother of ten, has extensive experience as a convenience store manager in the area but was ready to invest directly in the future of her family and her community by bringing this project to life. Starting a business in a rural area is complicated and challenging for many reasons. Ms. Coe’s path to this ribbon cutting is an instructive example of collaboration between funders, non-profits, and rural initiatives.

Ms. Coe invested her own money into the project but she needed to borrow the rest of the money to purchase the real estate and invest in repairs and initial inventory. First Community Bank was able to lend her 80% of the appraised value of the property but with necessary repairs and start-up inventory costs this wasn’t enough to get her business to the starting line.

As a CDFI, Woodlands’ goal is to help community banks meet their customer’s needs. We were able to help close her funding gap and make the project cash flow, with a loan supported by the supported by the West Virginia Capital Access Program (WVCAP). Susie Higgins, from the WV Small Business Development Center (WV SBDC) provided critical business coaching and technical assistance.

Woodlands recently expanded our service area to include Upshur County and was excited to be able to provide the funding to make Ms. Coe’s business possible. Woodlands’ CDFI loan products or technical assistance services are now available throughout the Mon Forest Region.

Coe’s Country Store is located at 1599 Alexander Road, French Creek, WV 26218 and is open every day from 8am to 8pm. We are thrilled to be able to support entrepreneurs like Ms. Coe as they strive to meet the needs of their community and invest in the future of their families.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,