Owning a small business in Crofton has its perks for Amelia Breckenridge despite the shutdowns from COVID-19 that struck so quickly and left many uncertain about their ability to endure the economic fallout.
Breckenridge only took over the former Mike’s Cafe, calling it Third Wave Coffee Company, last July 1 that also happens to be her birth date and only had a few months putting her stamp on the operation when it all came to a sudden halt. She has remained positive about moving forward toward a pending reopening.
“I took this as an opportunity to make this business better and not let it break me,” Breckenridge said.
Before taking over the business, she’s best known for her work in media. Breckenridge started at SUN-FM radio in Duncan in 2008, as co-host of the morning show and the station’s community cruiser representative. After taking a break for a few years, she resurfaced at Starbucks in Duncan and then returned to radio at 100.3 The Q in Victoria, working as the promotions director from 2016-19.
And then the mother of two boys – Matteo, 13, and Maximo, 6 – and 10-year Crofton resident found her calling in her own backyard.
“I’ve always loved coffee,” she said. “It’s been a passion of mine since I started hanging out in coffee shops as a teenager. When the opportunity came up to take over a business in my adopted hometown of Crofton last July I jumped on it. I never would have expected something like what we’re seeing with the pandemic in this country. I don’t think any small business owner can prepare for something like this. I think it’s an opportunity, though, to take some of that creative energy that we have as entrepreneurs and use it and focus it inward to make the business better, to make the changes we’ve always wanted to make but maybe didn’t have the time.
“For example, I’m working on new recipes and products, redecorating, working on signage and landscaping, and researching and planning new products for our customers we will be able to provide this summer, however it looks – whether it’s takeout only or we get a chance to fully reopen. No matter what happens we will be ready for this new chapter.”
One thing that really surprised Breckenridge when she started the coffee company was the generous support she received from other entrepreneurs and the community.
“We have the most amazing people here in Crofton,” she acknowledged. “I can’t say enough good things about our customers whether they are regulars who come in every day or maybe Salt Spring Island residents stopping by on their way to the ferry, or Taurus like last summer, although I expect that will be a different story this year. We are so incredibly grateful for the support that this town is showing us. I know that they will be back and I just want to be the best damn coffee shop I know how to be for when they do.”
Despite the hardship for everyone, not just small business owners, Breckenridge considers herself lucky. Her full-time staff members were incredibly understanding when she made the decision to close initially at the outbreak of the pandemic.
“Luckily we were all on the same page but I know that’s not the case for everyone when it comes to employees and business owners,” Breckenridge conceded. “I’m also blessed to have an understanding and supportive landlord, also not something everyone has. I’m just really grateful that Third Wave Coffee Company will survive this unprecedented turn of events. Hopefully I will be able to look back on this and say, I took this as an opportunity and a challenge to improve my business and not let it break me.”
The company’s cool surfboard sign has gone up on the patio, signalling part of the shop’s West Coast vintage modern style.
On a miscellaneous note, Breckenridge says coffee is one of those affordable luxuries so she’s not worried that people won’t come back after this. And for a lot of people it’s more about having a comfortable space to meet with friends or co-workers and just relax.
Karma and Agro brand coffees are available and cupcakes are coming soon, with at least a partial reopening date announcement to come.
“I know we’re going to survive this,” summed up Breckenridge. “We’re coming up on the busy season. I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I still believe we’re going to have a successful summer despite all the challenges.”