Growing Big Businesses in the Smallest of Places
Local couple Derick and Danielle Coffey were blessed with an ideal childhood growing up here in the Valley. Like most kids growing up in small towns, family was an important part of their lives and Derick and Danielle consider themselves to be fortunate to have supportive families. Hard work, diligence, and a love for community were values passed on to them by their parents, values they continue to incorporate into every aspect of their lives.
Part of a very large family, Danielle jokes, “It seems like I’m related in some way to nearly everybody I meet here.” Danielle divided her time between softball, volleyball, basketball, and riding horses. She also adored spending time with her grandparents.
Derick, an avid bowler, bowling a 300 game at the young age of 15. Reminiscing over that fateful game, Derick remarks, “I got really lucky, the pins bounced just right and everything fell into place.” Of course, bowling wasn’t the only think he was into. When he wasn’t bowling, or studying, he spent his time working at a local grocery store, making supervisor by the time he was 17. Derick confesses. “They gave me the keys even though I wasn’t supposed to technically have them at that age, I loved it…it was an awesome job.” He continued working there through his freshman year of college.
When Derick and Danielle parted ways after graduating Wilson High School in 2007, they had no idea they were destined to cross paths again so soon. Derick went away to college at Virginia Tech and Danielle stayed behind, studying to work as a vet tech at Blue Ridge Community College.
Two years passed as Danielle paid her way through school and finished her studies. Eventually, she landed a job at Westwood Veterinary Hospital and as fate would have it, Derick walked in one day with his two dogs while on Thanksgiving break. Spotting him right away, Danielle’s eyes lit up. Unable to hide her rekindled feelings of her high school crush, a coworker goaded her into taking his two dogs back before her break, knowing Danielle’s magnetic personality would draw Derick in. Sure enough, the two exchanged phone numbers and eventually arranged a meetup during when Derick returned from Blacksburg on winter break.
The couple spent a few months dating, with Danielle heading down to visit Derick in school on Valentine’s Day. By May, they both realized it was meant to be and set a date for their wedding for the following year.
Realizing the economy still wasn’t where it needed to be and being very much a planner, Derick enlisted and had a job lined up serving his country the year before he graduated. The couple married and lived together for a brief period in San Angelo, Texas. Derick fondly describes the place as “the middle of nowhere.”
After just a few short months in Texas, the couple packed all their belongings in a U-Haul and headed cross country to Ft. Lewis, Washington (state) in 2012. Trying to make good time, the intrepid travelers skipped quite a few sights until Danielle insisted they make a stop in Vegas, navigating the lumbering vehicle through the valet line, much to the dismay of casino staff.
While Derick settled into his new job with the military, Danielle started pounding the pavement looking for work. Interviews went great until employers realized she was an army wife. Anticipating she would be called away, she wasn’t getting finding many opportunities, despite her work experience. Not being one to give up, she kept looking until she finally connected with Olympia Furniture Company. Called back less than two hours after her interview, she was hired as their office manager. “If we didn’t want to open our own business, I would have worked there until I was 90”, says Danielle. The staff knew the young couple didn’t have family nearby and quickly filled this void in their lives.
Always on the go, the couple often held two jobs at once during their stay in Washington . Since his unit was already deployed by the time they arrived in the area, Derick was told to stick around and work on computers. “He just looked at computers all day and his days seemed so boring, I guess, because he couldn’t really tell me what he did”, says Danielle. Although Derick insists that his job was very cool (and very classified), his availability made it easier for them to buy and run a coffee shop while they lived there.
Before getting married to Danielle, Derick had prepared her for the possibility that he would make the military his primary career, but in another fateful twist, Derick decided to leave the military. After investing time and hard work working for Uncle Sam, he found himself passed over for promotions because the quotas for advancement were already filled. Used to being recognized and rewarded for a job well done, this didn’t sit well with the ambitious Derick. Always the planner, he had diligently saved up his leave days and could take advantage of terminal leave and make his exit about two months early. With his DD-214 in hand, something Derick also refers to as the “holy grail of the military,” they left Washington state mid-January of 2015.
It took a week for them to make their way back home to Virginia, with their U-Haul, all their belongings, and the dogs. This time around, Danielle and a family member eventually split off from their caravan to spend some time sightseeing, something she had wanted to do more of the first time around.
While there are days they find themselves missing their life there, Danielle is quick to say, “we’re so happy took a chance and returned to the Valley.”
Determined to become business owners in the Valley, they arrived in the area looking for a place to open their coffee shop, but things didn’t fall into place right away. Their first choice for a site fell through soon after they arrived. Derick confesses, “we were on the verge of just going back to Washington.” But something inspired the couple to hang on just a little bit longer.
In May, the couple started boot camp training at 3XF CrossFit Gym. “It kicks your butt,” exclaims Danielle, but in hindsight, joining the gym was fortuitous. As the gym membership grew, the space the gym occupied rapidly became too small. Miraculously, the landlord of the building CrossFit occupied was also a member, and when Danielle and Derick approached them with the coffee shop idea, there was no hesitation. “Everything just fell into place,” Derick relates with a smile.
Inspired by a Coffee Shop chain based in Oregon, the couple wants to bring a sense of community and caring to this business model. Hoping to leverage an uplifting atmosphere and the willingness to stop and make a
difference in people’s lives, like the Dutch Brothers Coffee Shop did by stopping to pray with a customer in their drive-thru who had just lost her husband, both Derick and Danielle feel like Perk Place Coffee will be an asset to the community…and the community is behind this determined young couple.
“People kept saying it was going to happen, it’s just a matter of when,” says Danielle. Humbled by the willingness of local people to spontaneously offer help in getting their business off the ground, both Derick and Danielle credit this sense of community with giving them the encouragement needed to weather the obstacles that pop up with almost every new business.
While there have been some bumps along the way, the couple remains upbeat and positive. “The glass isn’t half empty or half full. No matter what, we still have something to drink and we can always fill it up more,” quips Derick. Danielle and Derick Coffey definitely agree opening their coffee shop has been a “God thing” from start to finish…too many things have just fallen into place for it all to just be a coincidence.
Getting their business has presented a number of obstacles and there have been times where the couple gets discouraged, but when asked what they’re thankful for, they both turn to each other. “I’m most grateful for her (Danielle) because I’m part of a team now.”, says Derick. He remarks, “Some men’s wives give them a family, my wife is helping me build my dream.”
One thing is for certain, the Coffey couple has worked hard and weathered some tough times, but they’ve stuck it out together and found a way to make things happen by connecting with each other, their families, and their community.
Are you working hard to make a difference in the community? Do you somebody who has a story others should hear? Contact Valley Inbound today and let us know!