By Melissa Mendonca
Karli Janc of Elegant Bean Partners up in CottonwoodStory: Melissa Mendonca Photos: Alexis LeClair
In COTTONWOOD, it’s a familiar refrain to hear people say, “I’m off to the Bean!” The place of popularity is actually the Elegant Bean, a busy cafe in the Holiday Shopping Center that has become not only a place for outstanding espresso drinks – try the Aztec Mocha! – but what community planners refer to as a Third Place, a zone of comfort and familiarity away from home and work.
Its owner, Karli Janc, is a bright and vivacious 25-year-old who has already lived the dream of becoming the boss in a job where she started as an hourly employee while attending West Valley High School. She bought the Bean during her senior year at Chico State University studying business, and she brought her professor and classmates to the shop for a hands-on class during an upper-division management course.
“Cottonwood likes to support their local businesses,” Janc says of her hometown. “Everyone has that faith in our little community.” It’s a mutual faith. From the wall of thank-you certificates indicating animals bought at the junior livestock auction to Little League teams supported to her tenure as president of the Cottonwood Foundation for Excellence in Schools, she makes sure to give back as much as she gets.
The results have been so positive that she recently expanded her business. When the next-door owner of ETC Mercantile retired, the building’s owner agreed to knock down a wall between the two spaces for retail expansion. Janc partnered with seven other teams of business women to support a sort of cooperative retail space.
The new space has been named Western Unique N Shabby Chic. Barb Owens and Kay Heacock have brought their refurbished, vintage and up-cycled pieces to the Two Sisters section while Mary O’Keefe and Dianna Cunningham of Dragon Fly have brought in a great selection of Life is Good. The mother-and-daughter team of Carolyn Tyrell and Kim Calvin bring in retro, eclectic shabby chic home décor while Janc’s sister, Kaci Noreen, brings in a line of Vera Bradley product. Tammy Shook of Restored to Glory shares space with Rhonda Edward of Red Bluff’s Cutting Loose.
Terri Wright and Susan Boilon, the West Cottonwood School teachers who create the handmade gift items of Polka Dot Apple, keep products in the front of the store while Nancy Rodman of NCUnique has created a western wear store in the back.
“Bling, bling, bling and more bling is my motto,” Rodman says of her business that she recently brought back to Cottonwood. Originally a neighbor to the Elegant Bean, she took her shop on the road in a travel trailer following rodeos when the lease went up on her business a year and a half ago.
The creation of Western Unique N Shabby Chic allowed her to park the trailer and settle down. While she enjoyed life on the road, she has true affection for what she calls her “very small, local cow town.” She is proud to feature Girls with Guns products from Red Bluff and Sage Country camouflage products from Anderson.
“They’ve all known each other and they’ve known my grandparents,” Janc says of her business partners and why it works to have so many of them. It’s just as common for people to buy a coffee and then walk around the retail area as it is for them to sit at a cafe table surrounded by local arts and crafts at the Bean.
When they do sit, it’s often with a wildly popular oat bar from a very old recipe provided by Mary Harvatt, who was the aide to Janc’s kindergarten teacher at Evergreen School. While Harvatt has since passed away, her legacy lives on in the oat bars and success of her former students.
Janc describes herself as a homebody when not at the Bean or her new retail venture. She loves hanging out with her husband, Dusty Janc, a supervisor at Costco, and their rambunctious 2-year-old son, Easton. Parents Rick and Angie Gurrola, also of Cottonwood, remain close and sister Kaci is the pinch hitter at the Bean while keeping up with her line of Vera Bradley products.
With all she’s got going, it’s no wonder Janc was named one of the Record Searchlight’s “20 Under 40” in 2012.
“Everyone makes themselves at home,” says Janc, surveying her business spaces and saying hello to customers she’s known for years. It’s clear she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Elegant Bean • 20633 Gas Point Road • Cottonwood • (530) 347-9669 Western Unique N’ Shabby Chic • 20633 Gas Point Road, Ste C2 • Cottonwood • (530) 347-2244