How to Become a Coffee Shop Owner

Meet the Owner of Stylus and Crate

Coffee shop owner Tadd Overstreet didn’t always spend the work day making coffee and spinning vinyl (records.) A few years ago, he was ready to trade computer screens and conference calls for work he was passionate about. 

“I decided to do something for me for a change. Instead of chasing money, I thought about the things that were really important to me: sourcing great products, taking care of people, and telling stories,” Tadd shared.

It was a late-night Google search about “opening a coffee shop” that led him to the Texas Coffee School 3-Day Cofee Business Master Class. Two and a half years later, he opened Stylus and Crate, a coffee, waffle, vinyl, and art shop in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. 

Tadd Overstreet at Stylus and Crate coffee shop

Making a Major Career Pivot to Become a Coffee Shop Owner

Before becoming a coffee shop owner, Tadd was a food broker and sales director. His idea for a career change showed up when he was sitting in the Chicago airport. Tired of traveling and waiting for a delayed flight, he picked up the book When to Jump: If the Job You Have Isn’t the Life you Want by Mike Lewis. The book prompted him to reevaluate his career and take the leap into entrepreneurship. 

Tadd spent much of his former career sourcing food and coffee in the retail world. He decided opening a coffee shop would allow him the lifestyle change he was looking for. It wasn’t an immediate transition, but his time at Texas Coffee School helped solidify and validate his plans. 

“I walked away from the class not only knowing that I could do it, but that I wanted to do it,” Tadd said. 

Opening a Coffee Shop One Step at a Time

Tadd’s analytical business background guided many of his decisions. After attending Texas Coffee School, he spent a year finding the right location for Stylus and Crate. He finally found a location in an up-and-coming neighborhood in a Denver suburb. 

At Texas Coffee School, we teach our students how to gauge the profitability potential of a location by assessing foot and auto traffic among other factors. Tadd followed our Coffeepreneur® roadmap step-by-step. Once he knew it was the right location, he created a partnership with the people who were turning the building’s second floor into four Airbnb units. He’d be able to make Stylus and Crate a community gathering space with coffee, food, and retail.  

Tadd’s methodical approach prevented him from running into a lot of roadblocks on his way to opening. What he couldn’t have predicted, though, was that as soon as construction was finished on the site in Mid-March 2020, the pandemic would shut everything down. 

Regardless, Stylus and Crate was able to open one step at a time throughout the summer. First with coffee, then with waffles. As the brunch crowd grew, their small vinyl retail space grew into a larger used vinyl shop. Last week, they partnered with a local artist whose art sold alongside coffee, waffles, and vinyl. Tadd’s vision of including beer and wine isn’t far away, nor is his long term plan of multiple locations. The pandemic may have slowed his timeline, but there’s no denying Stylus and Crate’s momentum.

Stylus and Crate inside Coffee Shop in Wheatridge, Colorado

Creating a Business Concept from Passion and Experience

From the very beginning, Tadd opened Stylus and Crate to create a career and lifestyle he was passionate about. He wanted to serve the community through things he loved. 

“In my life, people connect over food, drink, and music,” Tadd shared. Coffee was a logical jump from his prior work experience. Waffles were an idea he’d had after working with a waffle restaurant start-up. Records were a personal favorite. 

Stylus and Crate (the name originating from a record player stylus and the milk crates used to store vinyl records) allows customers to choose vinyl to spin. Just like coffee, it’s a tactile ritual that brings people together. 

“You never know if you’re listening to Sesame Street on a Saturday morning or Lizzo,” Tadd laughed. 

Whether they come for the food, drinks, or music, the community is giving Stylus and Crate five stars across the board. This recent review on their Facebook page says it all: 

“From the vibrant atmosphere, great coffee, awesome music (that you can pick yourself), the friendly owner and worker, I had a blast. You guys rock!”

Stylus and Crate vinyl record corner

Plugging into Community

Connecting with their Wheat Ridge neighborhood and community wasn’t an accident. Even though the pandemic thwarted his opening plans, Tadd was intentional about making connections. He sourced his coffee from a local Colorado coffee roaster, got involved in the local chamber of commerce, and met neighboring businesses. He even handed out Stylus and Crate branded guitar picks for people to keep or exchange for a free drink. 

Tadd’s location choice has started to pay off as more businesses bring foot traffic into the neighborhood. As small businesses came together to support one another this summer, Tadd shared that the brewery next door spent more time promoting Stylus and Crate on social media than they did themselves. In turn, Tadd is staying true to his vision of taking care of people. 

“It’s been a labor of love. It wasn’t designed to replace income or anything like that. It was designed to meet me at that point in life when I wanted to give back in some way. Down to our roasters who source all the way to our farm relationships, to mentoring kids on how to run businesses, that’s what’s been more important to me,” Tadd shared.  

Stylus and Crate is proof that it really is possible to create work we love. It’s possible to bring our visions to life, one step at a time. Tadd’s vision for Stylus and Crate can be summed up with this Leslie Knope quote, featured on the home page of the Stylus and Crate website: 

“We need to remember what’s important in life. Friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter. But work is third.”  

Become a Coffee Shop Owner with Texas Coffee School

The journey to becoming a coffee shop owner isn’t easy, as Tadd can attest. We can walk you through every step, from vision to opening, with our 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class. Click here to see upcoming dates. 

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