Walking the Walk

For over five years, I have been employed by the Venango Chamber, where our mission is to build, serve, and promote regional businesses in the Venango Area. I spend my days advocating for our members, helping plan and execute events to bring business to our towns, assisting FLEX in engaging and empowering future leaders and entrepreneurs, speaking to students about opportunities in our area, and much more.

Through working for our Chamber members, I thought I had a good idea of what it is like to have a business in Venango County, but it wasn’t until recently that I got a true understanding of this.

Last month, I opened Core Goods, a new store in Oil City where we sell bulk foods (like nuts, seeds, dried beans, and grains), local produce, grab & go meals, and kombucha (a popular fermented tea). The idea for the store came about because of my passion for food and health, and I was able to use connections I’ve made through the Chamber to help make it happen.

Along with Shaun and Marie Alcorn, owners of Karma Coffee Company and the Yellow Dog Lantern Restaurant, I opened the doors to Core Goods on Saturday, September 29, and the community has been nothing but embracing of our new business.

I was unsure of how things would play out with my career—I knew I didn’t want to leave my job at the Chamber, but my passion was pulling me towards the store. Fortunately, though, the Chamber staff and board have been nothing but supportive throughout this whole process. I have had the opportunity to keep my job at the Chamber and take some time off each week while we’re getting things going, then the plan is to work remotely and come into the Chamber when possible, to make up for the time I’ll be at the store when it’s open.

It may seem like my shifts at the store are time away from my Chamber work, but the two undoubtedly coincide. At the store, I’ve talked to young professionals about FLEX, shared Be Here information with new community members, and helped promote Chamber programs and events. And, of course, Core Goods is a Chamber member!

When meeting someone new at the coffee shop the other day and sharing a little about myself, I heard: “I like that you work for the Chamber and are not just talking the talk, but you’re walking the walk.”

I absolutely loved hearing this. I’ve spent years helping businesses thrive in our region, and now I get to have the business owner’s perspective. It’s been less than a month since we’ve been open, but I have a better understanding of what it’s like to run a business, the struggles local business owners face, and how we can all work together to help our area move forward.

This journey has been amazing, to say the least, and I am proud to be a new business owner in our region. I look forward to continuing to take my experience from the Chamber and apply it to my work at Core Goods, and to bring back a new perspective and ideas to help the Chamber’s initiatives.

Opening a business and “walking the walk” has made me even more excited and thankful to be here in Venango County.