BY HANNAH LESTER
Ironically, Owner Luis Saavedra, wasn’t even present when he learned his business had won the award.
He received a call while attending the Business Over Breakfast to take care of some things for Boonie Hat and excused himself. He returned while the chamber was taking the event down — only to learn he’d won the award.
Because Boonie Hat won the small business of the quarter, it will be eligible for small business of the year, later on, Saavedra said.
“Out of the 800 businesses or so that are a member of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, 60 businesses had been nominated for the Small Business of the Quarter,” Saavedra said. “And I had been one of the finalists. They ask you, ‘can you be at this business over breakfast?’ And so, I thought I had no chance of winning.”
Saavedra said he’d been told a few people nominated his business.
“You spend so much time worrying about ‘Is somebody else getting ahead? Is somebody else doing better than I am?’ And you work so hard. And you have no idea how you’re perceived and how your business is perceived because you spend so much time worrying about, ‘am I falling behind?’ So this was a big honor.”
Boonie Hat will be celebrating its one year mark of working out of the brick-and-mortar soon. Boonie Hat shares a space with Market Street Paint Shop and the collaboration between the two owners, Saavedra and Jim Bryson, has benefitted both of their businesses, they said.
“Jim Bryson made this possible by inviting me to be here,” Saavedra said. “My wife Sharon, and my team of baristas make me look better than what I am. I’m the biggest Wizard of Oz in this town. ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.’ Because that’s me, there’s a lot of people that are making me look good.”
Boonie Hat started with Saavedra roasting coffee in a popcorn popper, selling it to local businesses and eventually turned into an actual storefront with Bryson.
“When I opened Boonie Hat Coffee Company, I had envisioned something that would be really good coffee but I really wanted it to be accessible and available to blue collar people, to hard-working people, to professionals, who need coffee at the time when they need it,” Saavedra said.
Saavedra roasts his coffee fresh and on-site, wanted to make sure his place was veteran-friendly.
Saavedra is a veteran himself, and has designed his shop as place where both veterans, and community members, can feel comfortable.
To visit Opelika’s Small Business of the Quarter, check out Boonie Hat at 116 S. 8th St. Opelika.