Chance Ebersold, the owner of Black Sheep Coffee and Miranda, the owner of The Yellow Button share a lot more than a wall in the Harrisonburg Icehouse. They share a marriage, an adorable little boy, another baby on the way, and a love for downtown!
They also share the experience and knowledge of owning small businesses in downtown. This makes it easy for them to encourage each other in their entrepreneurial endeavors. Even when it came time to picking the name of Chance’s coffee shop, they brainstormed for something unique together. “We ended up naming each other’s businesses,” Miranda chimes in.
Miranda never thought she would end up starting her own business. Fashion is her passion and she always knew that was the field for her. Though, it wasn’t until after working in retail that she realized she wanted to open her own store. Chance on the other hand, had a business prior to opening Black Sheep Coffee. He cheered on the sidelines and was a mentor to Miranda while she opened The Yellow Button.
The couple enjoys bouncing ideas off of each other. But, at the end of the day, they are their own bosses. “We like keeping our work separate.We will not be opening a coffee shop/boutique hybrid anytime soon,” jokes Miranda. In fact, other than waving when walking by or bringing each other their mail, they don’t really see each other during the day (unless Miranda is running over to Black Sheep Coffee to grab some tea).
When it came time to open their businesses, they both knew downtown was the place to be. Miranda had always felt a strong tie to the downtown community and believes that those that live downtown want to shop locally. When she was looking to relocate The Yellow Button to the Icehouse, Chance realized that was the perfect place for him to start his coffee shop as well. Now, the two are neighbors in business and have helped develop a special community in the Ice House. “The Icehouse has its own friendly, community feel within downtown,” says Chance. “We know the other business owners well, and even live by some of them.”
While their businesses are unique, both Chance and Miranda believe they are catering to what people want. Prior to opening Black Sheep Coffee, Chance believed a coffee shop like his was needed downtown. The location makes it easy for people to walk to and from their offices. Chance feels that Black Sheep Coffee’s cup of coffee fulfills what a true coffee lover has wanted, coming from a man whose favorite drink is a simple espresso which he attributes to his experience around coffee.
The support of the community is one of their favorite things about being downtown. They have customers come into the stores and share how thrilled they are to have their businesses there. They both find it very rewarding and aspire for that warm and welcoming atmosphere. They also value costumer service. Miranda enjoys sending handwritten thank you notes to customers and building a relationship with them so that when something comes in stock they know the customer will love, they can call them and let them know. Similarly, the open layout and low counter design of Black Sheep Coffee gives Chance the opportunity to interact with his customers. Chance is not an owner to hide in the back. He will often be serving you himself!
As small business owners, they understand the importance of supporting other downtown businesses. Therefore, they spend a lot of their time downtown. The couple lives in Old Town. Chance rides his bike to work and they barely use their car except to take their son back and forth to daycare.
Even on the weekends, they are spending their time in the community they love. They do their grocery shopping at Friendly City Food Co-op and the Farmer’s Market. They share that going to the Farmer’s Market is one of their favorite things to do downtown! Chance claims that it has even become more of a social event for them because they are always running into friendly and familiar faces there. Even when they do not have a grocery list, they are there on Saturdays, as it has become part of their routine. With a young son, they like spending time at the Explore More Discovery Museum and and regularly attend community events.
It’s important for them to be part of a growing community. “We’ve watched downtown grow with us,” says Chance. “It’s become more of a family town than it was when we first moved to Harrisonburg”.
Chance and Miranda’s story is the first in our “Downtown That Love Built” series, which highlights the love stories and passionate people that are helping make downtown Harrisonburg a vibrant and growing community. Show off your love for downtown with a Downtown That Love Built T-shirt designed by local artists Jeff Guinn and Zach Carlson.
Written by Emily Faraone, James Madison University student in the School of Media Arts and Design and Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Promotions Intern