West Central businesses aim to fill gap in community
There are a lot of reasons for starting up a small business, even in a recession, but for three socially conscious shops in West Central Spokane, it came down to one: The neighborhood needed them.
Between the Spokane County Courthouse and the western edge of the city, there were few family-friendly places to meet for coffee, no place to snag a healthful snack or browse for a good book.
On Monday, Indaba Coffee formally opens its doors at 1425 W. Broadway Ave. in space it will share with two nonprofits, the Book Parlor and Katie’s Table, a deli and grocery.
“We thought (about) what the neighborhood might need,” said the Rev. Alan Eschenbacher, a board member of Spokane Urban Ministries, which developed Walnut Corners low-income housing that opened this summer on property owned by Salem Lutheran Church.
When the 47-unit complex was built with the help of federal, state, local and private funds, the ground floor of Walnut Corners was reserved for retail stores in an area of town short on amenities.
“Our goal is to form a community,” said Eschenbacher, pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Browne’s Addition, which leases the space called The Commons from Spokane Urban Ministries.
The nonprofit partnership is made of Salem, All Saints and Grace Lutheran Church in the East Central neighborhood.
“We set aside space and looked at possibilities,” said the Rev. James Kashork, president of Spokane Urban Ministries. “One of the things we like about All Saints is they put together a partnership to fill a variety of needs.”
When it came to filling The Commons, Eschenbacher said, he focused not on a profit motive, but on the needs of the community. Unlike several other Spokane neighborhoods, the minister said, West Central lacked a core where people can congregate.
The three businesses were chosen to form such a place in 1,600 feet of shared space.
Indaba Coffee is a partnership of three Washington State University alumni with ties to West Central – Jimmy Addington, Ben Doornink and Bobby Enslow.
Though Indaba is a for-profit business, its owners have pledged to give a portion of the profits back to the community through donations to Project Hope, a gang-prevention initiative for at-risk youth.
Doornink also said the owners wished to provide West Central with a meeting place to call its own.
“We want to be an economic catalyst and stimulate growth in the area,” Doornink said.
Indaba, which plans to buy its locally roasted coffee from Bumper Crop Coffee in Newman Lake, will be run by Abe Henderson, whose stated goal is “to serve the best cup of coffee in town and be part of the community.”
The Book Parlor, operated by Salem Lutheran, moved into The Commons from just across Broadway Avenue, where it began about eight years ago as a seller of theological books.
Manager Connie Malone said the Book Parlor is now a full-service, albeit small, bookstore that sells new and used books, including textbooks, as well as free-trade artisan items.
“We are a welcoming place that puts people first, not money first,” Malone said. “We have to make enough money to stay open, but we’re here to serve people.”
When it joins its neighbors at The Commons, Katie’s Table, named for Martin Luther’s wife, will serve sandwiches as well as grocery items such as milk and bread.
“We are hoping we can break even, pay the rent and a few employees,” Eschenbacher said. “Anything left over will go into the ministry.”