Alex Gale – Black Lodge Coffee Roasters
The winding journey to becoming the owner of Black Lodge Coffee Roasters began with monthly trips to New Harmony to get away from it all, get centered, and have a peaceful place to meditate. Although he lived an hour away, when Alex Gale found out there was a coffee shop that was also a small-batch roastery in town that he had been blissfully unaware of, he immediately had to make a trip to see for himself. Nestled between two cornfields and full of nostalgia, the shop is an exact replica of a cooperage (barrel manufacturing business) that dates back to 1825. According to Gale, it was love at first sight. Having some experience as a barista and after forming a quick bond with the owners he eventually began to pick up some shifts behind the counter.
As things would have it, in 2019 the opportunity arose to move from part-time employee to taking ownership. Amidst a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, and Gale’s uncertainties regarding the hard questions about owning your own business, the Southwest Indiana Small Business Development Center (Southwest Indiana SBDC) stepped in to help. Business Advisor Doug Claybourn was an invaluable resource and helped Gale find the answers he needed to orchestrate a comprehensive business plan. Claybourn also provided important industry reports, insightful market research data, and especially encouragement.
Not lacking in a strong work ethic and happily doing whatever needed to be done to keep the doors open, it just wasn’t enough when conventional funding fell through. In a striking move of generosity, a family who had supported the coffee shop from the beginning approached Gale and said they were not willing for him to lose the business. They introduced him to a local business owner, who after several meetings and hearing Gale’s story, decided to fund the entire project. He gets emotional recalling the feeling of his own personal Hallmark story and being told that he and his beloved business was believed in and it was time for him to spread his wings and fly.
Gale states that it’s important to be vulnerable to your surroundings and listen to hear instead of listening to respond. He is full of praises for his close-knit group of advisors and depends on them to help him navigate the waters of being an owner and not just an employee. Much like a famous insurance commercial, he was thankful to find himself in good hands with the Southwest ISBDC. “You think it’s a perfect time, but there’s no such thing as the perfect time… there’s just time. And you’ve got to figure out where you belong at that time,” shared Gale. He recalls during that summer of 2019 feeling he belonged in Claybourn’s office, getting the advice he needed and the guidance to make sure he was on the path he needed to be.
With Gale’s bubbly personality, delightful atmosphere, local artists’ works for sale in the shop, and unique drink choices like Bourbon Barrel Aged coffee and beer syrup lattes, Black Lodge Coffee Roasters has made a distinctive name for itself in southern Indiana and garnered a loyal customer fan base.