One might reasonably think that Betty Patterson picked exactly the wrong time to launch a business.
She opened All-Good Coffee Shop and Used Books on Glass Street in December 2019 – just a few months before the world locked down in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. But her granddaughter, Jacquelyn Allgood-White, says the store had one thing going for it many businesses didn't.
"We were blessed," she says, "in that my grandmother owns the building."
Allgood-White is now the store's owner of record, her grandmother having turned it over to her this past January. Allgood-White says the store stands as a testament to her family's commitments to literacy and to East Chattanooga.
"Our motto is, 'Those who read, lead,'" says Allgood-White, who earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Austin Peay State University. "My parents always stressed the importance of getting a good education, the tool you need to be successful in life."
Allgood-White estimates the store has more than 1,000 volumes, representing a wide array of genres, on its shelves.
"Used books are more affordable for people," she says. "We acquire books in all kinds of ways. We go out as a family and buy books we think are awesome – cookbooks, art books, politics, religion, African-American history and literature.
"We also take donations [of books], which allows us to price books very reasonably," she adds.
The family has deep roots in the community, and a tradition of entrepreneurism.
"We're from East Chattanooga. I was raised here. When I was a teenager, my grandmother opened First Step Christian Academy," Allgood-White says.
When she opened the bookstore and coffee shop, her grandmother wanted to create a place in East Chattanooga where "people can meet, talk, study and bring their kids."
"We wanted [the store] to be a beacon in the community, something positive for East Chattanooga," Allgood-White says. "It was her vision, but it was a family thing as far as hands on the plow – it took our entire family to come alongside and make sure her vision was being realized."
Allgood-White says her schedule allowed her to start helping out in the store in the middle of last year. When she took it over, she did so with some pretty specific instructions from her grandmother.
All-Good Coffee Shop and Used Books
* Address: 2420 Glass Street
* Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
"Maintain the integrity of the establishment," says Allgood-White, who adds that her background also includes eight years of retail experience.
"We will not sell alcohol. This will be a place where families can go and be safe. They can read, learn and be comfortable. We will be something the community can be proud of," she says.
Allgood-White says the store tends to draw a variety of customers, from students to young parents with children in tow. The store has hosted book signings and musical performances, she says, and rents out space for small events and meetings.
"We're doing well," Allgood-White says. "So many people want to see us do well, and they're bringing their business with them."
"We're building, one block at a time," she says. "Hopefully, we'll see an increase from our first year to our second year."