Small Business as Community Investment

Running a small business means making an investment in your community. That works out for the owners of Sagebrush Café who started their small business in 2009 with the express mission to play a role in the local community.

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June Milham and Eric Martin were both part of the community in the Quartz Hill area in the Antelope Valley before starting the quirky and artistic coffee house nearly eleven years ago. They worked as English teachers at the local high school.

Today, Milham continues to keep her community roots strong, currently planning and work-shopping a series of Art Retreats for artists and non-artists alike. Martin took a break from teaching as they launched the business but has since gone back to the classroom, teaching English at AVC.

Of course, the two spend more time in Sagebrush Café than anywhere else. You can find them most days serving drinks, pastries and sandwiches or introducing patrons to the current art work showing in the café’s gallery space.

Over eleven years, this small business as had the chance to be the first job for many local, young workers, watching many of them go off to four year schools and welcoming them back when they return home with degrees (sometimes coming back to work again for a while at the café between undergraduate and graduate school).

The owners say they’re proud to be the place people come back to and the place that represents home for so many members of the community, those who stay and those who travel or move away and return to visit. “It’s great to hear people say that we’re that place for them,” Martin says, “the first stop when they’re back in town.”

It’s a close-knit environment but it’s an open one too. Milham is quick to point out that customer service is a major emphasis – because community isn’t just a place where people live. It’s an ethos, a principle to live by.

And this is part of the message that every new staff member hears during training, though for most of them it is a big part of the reason they want to come work there in the first place.

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