CHARLOTTE, Mich. — A local coffee shop in Eaton Rapids is brewing up more than that traditional cup of coffee by using some non-traditional business techniques to engage the community.
The BlackDog Coffee shop on Hamlin Street in downtown Eaton Rapids has been open since November, and its owner Lisa Barna says her business model echoes her family's mission to build community.
"We started using it as a personal philosophy. To always look out for the black dog in any situation, who is the person that's being forgotten or left behind," said Barna.
Barna says she has six employees and prides herself on offering great benefits and wages to her staff.
"All of our staff gets $16 an hour plus tips. Our average staff member is seeing about $20 an hour, when you calculate the tips in. We believe everybody deserves to have a living wage," said Barna.
BlackDog offers drinks, sandwiches and desserts but also hosts events like a crochet circle and yoga in a large event space that can be rented out.
Customer Chris Hazelton says small shops like this really help residents to connect with people from all walks of life.
"Coffee shops, especially in towns this size, are such a great place to meet people that are big parts of the community whether they work at city hall or whether they run a shop downtown," said Hazelton.
BlackDog buys many of its products from several Michigan companies.
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