Stepping out of the car at Pitt Meadows’ Osprey Village was like taking a breath of fresh air. The quaint clusters of brightly coloured store fronts were a welcome in themselves. Then, we met the people who work there. The owners of the various companies – Montessori daycare, Pet Grooming, Nail Salons – were stepping out onto their patios reflecting on their days before walking back to their own houses, just a few blocks away.
At the end of the street, Stomping Grounds Coffee House opens up onto a grass field just before the water. Anahi and Dylan English are perched at a cafe table. Their passion for their business is bursting out of them and you can tell they can’t wait to share it with everyone. But first things first, out comes glasses of iced coffee that tastes so good that I almost want to reach across the table and give them a hug.
Dylan, with the help of some friends in various trades, literally built this place himself. When he started there was nothing but four walls and a front door. The transformation is incredible. The cafe is has a rustic feel and the wooden furniture and accents have brought the outdoors in.
Over in the corner, a play area is set up for the “Little Stompers,” which is soon occupied by Dylan and Anahi’s 2 year old daughter Cala, who has her dad’s eyes and her mom’s bubbly personality.
On the opposite wall, is a colourful chalkboard sign that lets the customers know about upcoming events such as live music nights and community get-togethers.
Stomping Grounds is perfectly named: this is definitely a place where locals will come back and take their friends and family.
Both of you had full-time jobs before starting Stomping Grounds, was opening your own business something you had thought about for awhile?
Anahi: I had been working for Vancity Credit Union in Micro-finance and Small Business. We moved from North Vancouver, thinking that one day we would like to own our own business. We found Osprey Village and it was looking for a coffee shop. We applied but didn’t get it. A year later, we got the call: we wrote a business plan in about two days and it was ours! That happened in January of 2011, we got the keys in February and opened in April.
Dylan (laughing): We like to do things quickly! We literally built this store in a month. Because we were both still working our full time jobs, we’d work all day and come here at night and work on the store.
Were you ever nervous about making such a big investment?
Dylan: We were nervous but confident. We were confident it was going to work, and if we didn’t open up a coffee shop here, someone else would.
Anahi: I’d say we were optimistic and realistic. I suppose I was nervous when it came to our daughter and paying for our mortgage and bills, but you take it day by day and stay positive. Dylan also works full time as an electrician, so we have one income covered as well.
What are your favourite parts about the business you’ve built?
Anahi: Walking in here every day, seeing what we’ve built. I love it here. People walk in and can see our story playing out.
Dylan: I like seeing families outside with their children, relaxing and enjoying themselves. A lot of the places in this development fill needs for people. You stop in to take your kid to daycare or to get your hair done, but it needed a place where you could sit down and hang out for awhile. We’re happy we could do that and are hoping to see more spaces like that in the future.
You have based your business around the community. Has the community extended the same love in return?
Dylan: We are so supported by our community and we didn’t want to be a big pop-up shop moving into the neighbourhood, we wanted to build something with character, that meant something to us and that the community could enjoy.
Anahi: I love that he built this place with his hands. When we were still building, I posted our family bio on the doors, so people could get to know us. People really responded to that and embraced us, they would come by every day and ask us how the building was coming and along and when we were opening.
What is one of your favourite parts about working together?
Anahi: I love that we can be proud together and can look at each other and say, “Can you believe we’re doing this! We’ve done it!”
Dylan: That we have shot for the stars, just my wife and I, living out our dreams
Anahi (smiling): We are living out our dreams.