Stories&Work: Nick Bollinger
Give us your full name.
Share the kind of work you do.
My wife Lori and I own Junction Coffee, a mobile coffee business we operate out of a double-decker bus.
We wanted to open a coffee shop because we love coffee and we love people. We just kept running the numbers and we could not afford a brick-and-mortar coffee shop. Rather than go into a lot of debt, we started thinking the food truck route. But with a truck, we felt like we lost the relational aspect. So we started looking for creative ways around that. We thought maybe we could get a Winnebago and then people could come inside if they wanted. But then we saw this double-decker and we were like, "That's it!"
What’s the biggest thing you had to overcome to find success in your work?
Working with other small business owners in the city has got to be one of our favorite things about the business. It's a super neat little community. But we were intimidated getting into the coffee business here at first because we had no background or training and there are a lot of really talented people in the coffee scene in OKC. But people have been incredibly kind to us. We first started poking around and heard that Hoboken Coffee Roasters out in Guthrie was getting rid of an espresso machine. We close to emptied out our savings account and got it set up in our living room and just started testing it out. It's not the machine we have in the bus now but it got us through a lot of trial runs.
We contacted Mariposa Coffee Roastery and they helped train us along with a few friends of ours. We spent a year just trying to perfect the coffee. We never had a goal of being the best coffee in town but we wanted to be a great environment that sold a really good product we could be proud of.
What's the best advice you received about opening up a business?
Before getting into coffee, my wife was a freelance graphic designer and I was a youth pastor. The best advice we got when we started the business was that we were warned we should take any time estimate we had for opening shop and double it. That ended up being pretty true.
What is the risk in pursuing doing the work you love?
If we fail, there's not a safety net you'd have in a traditional job. Because of my pastoral background, the bus is an extension of ministry for me. Part of this business was to establish a kind of transitional ministry where we put a tangible expression of the love of God into a business. So some churches put some skin in the game to get us off the ground. That adds even more risk because we don't want to fail and let them down.
What’s the biggest way your business has changed since you started it?
We've always been busy but now we're busy in a different way. I think it's been such a gradual change because I've been in business owner blinder mode. But when I take a step back I see that we've adapted to the business really well and we really are fostering those relationships I wanted all along.