At first, Alexe van Beuren and Kagan Coughlin weren’t sure what to do with the derelict building — a historic home — that they’d rescued in their community of Water Valley, Miss.
“We had this building that my husband [Kagan] had been renovating on nights and weekends,” van Beuren recalls. “No one else seemed to want to do anything with it.”
So, the couple decided to open a business that would provide something Water Valley lacked — an old-school grocery store and eatery teeming with fresh-from-the-farm products.
“I really love the little town where we live, but it didn’t have [access to] good, quality food,” van Beuren says. “I was driving about 40 minutes just to get food that I wanted to eat.”
Alexe and her husband opened the B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery on Main Street. The store, which sells locally produced goods and serves freshly prepared foods, celebrated its third anniversary in April 2013.
“The response has been really great,” van Beuren says. “A lot of people around here grew up on subsistence farms, so the idea of eating fresh vegetables and glass-bottled milk is something they understand.”
“I think we’re doing way better than anybody thought we would,” she confides. “We’ve expanded. We’ve grown. We’re a much better store than we were when we opened, because we’ve listened to what people want.”
What locals want now is more of the delicious culinary delights produced daily by the B.T.C.’s baker, Cora Ray, and chef, Dixie Grimes. But that’s been a difficult challenge to address, van Beuren says. “They have been cooking on two very battered, cheap electric stoves — every burner cooks at a different consistency.”
In hopes of updating the kitchen, van Beuren recently entered Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong campaign.
“Our wish? An eight-burner gas stove with a griddle,” her entry reads. “With folks waiting for grits and sausage gravy and homemade soups and from-scratch fried pies every day of the week, these ladies deserve a powerhouse in the kitchen.”
Well, it looks like Cora and Dixie can prepare to put that old stove out to pasture! Intuit is granting van Beuren’s wish for a state-of-the-art appliance.
“This is so fantastic,” van Beuren says. “Thank you so much! This is going to be a game-changer for us. … They are going to be able to make better foods faster, which is good because our demand is picking up.”
The new stove will help B.T.C. turn a new page, but the actual page-turning for van Beuren begins next year: Her cookbook-memoir, The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival, is due out next spring.
Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong campaign is announcing one winner a day through May 24, 2013. Check out the list of current winners, and find out if yours is one of the wishes we’ve granted!