Local entrepreneurs “bounce back better”

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. One in five small businesses in the United States will fail within their first year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On Sept. 27, 2022, Boomerang Coffee Lounge joined the 80% of businesses that celebrate their one-year anniversary. Its success wasn’t linear, though.
The owners opened up a coffee shop because they wanted to make an impact in their community.
Owners Maegan and Brett Nowak got their start in business with Pioneers Coffee Catering, a mobile beverage cart servicing events. Eventually, they were able to move into Bay City’s City Market – a collective of local businesses – opening City Grind in January 2021. Unfortunately, the City Market took a major hit from the pandemic, and in just four months of being in business, City Grind was forced to close.

“Our struggle and heartbreak over the closure of City Grind is what established our slogan for Boomerang, 'Bounce Back Better,’” says Brett. “We are firm believers that whatever storm you go through, you will always bounce back better.”

And they did. Three months after City Grind’s closure, the Nowaks opened Boomerang Coffee Lounge at 128 Ashman Circle. In the year since opening, Boomerang has become a neighborhood staple for Midland’s Center City. 
Boomerang also offers baked goods and a full brunch menu.
“We've definitely seen a lot more regulars,” says Maegan. “I've gotten to really connect with a couple people, and it just feels so meaningful. … It's really cool to see that the community supports us, and we can also support them.”

Brett and Maegan got into business because they wanted to make a greater impact in their community. “I wanted to be hands-on in making a change,” says Brett. “I firmly believe that coffee builds community and relationships. Amazing conversations happen over a coffee and brunch date, and we wanted to provide a welcoming and warm place for new and old friends to meet up.”

Co-owner Maegan Nowak (left) stands beside Lounge Manager Alix Campbell. Alix has been with Boomerang since October 2021, shortly after the location opened.
Grinding up challenges and ‘roasting’ to success

The husband and wife team work together to run the business. Maegan handles the day-to-day operations such as scheduling, ordering, baking, and taking care of customers with the help of their Lounge Manager, Alix Campbell. Brett handles all the paperwork. 

For their first five months in business, Maegan and Brett both worked from open until close to ensure their mission of serving the community was being accomplished. Once he felt they had reached that point, Brett stepped back and took a full-time position at the Arnold Center as the Community Employment and Outreach Coordinator. 
Ever wanted to peek behind the counter? All their food and beverages come out of this humble but mighty space.
One of their major challenges when opening was getting the space set up.

“We assumed everything was going to be ready to go, but it was actually quite a pain to get all the plumbing ready,” she says. “We had drawn up a layout of how we wanted our equipment to be spaced out in here, but we realized very quickly it wasn’t going to work because of the water.”

Luckily, the Nowaks have a resourceful family. Brett has an electrician and a plumber on his side of the family, and Maegan’s dad is a contractor. 

For equipment, they took out a loan to purchase appliances for City Grind. Within their short time of operating the business, they were able to pay off the loan in full. They were also able to find items for reasonable prices, for example, the large cabinet their espresso machine rests on was purchased from Habitat for Humanity for $75. Over time, they’ve made upgrades.

“We’re big believers in buying as you go and upgrading as you go; it’s a lot easier than doing it all at once,” says Maegan. “It’s also easier financially to wait and do it slowly.” For example, they knew they wanted a TV menu when they started, but they started with paper menus. Maegan advises entrepreneurs to be patient with themselves when they’re opening their businesses.

“I wish I would have given myself more grace when we first opened knowing that it’s okay to take time to make changes,” says Maegan. “I wanted everything to be perfect right when we opened, but some of it you can’t learn until you make that mistake.”

Their philosophy of learning as you go has paid off.

“Amazing conversations happen over a coffee and brunch date, and we wanted to provide a welcoming and warm place for new and old friends to meet up,” says Brett.
“Each month, we've continually gotten busier, and this past September was the busiest month we’ve ever had,” says Maegan. Their growth has enabled them to hire more staff – going from just one staff member to five. The menu has grown, too. In recent months, they’ve added coffee flights to their offerings. “As we nail down one thing, we think, ‘okay, what’s the next thing we can try to stretch ourselves out with?’”

The owners had this advice to share with those interested in starting a business.

“Definitely reach out to fellow entrepreneurs. Get to know them; see if they have any tips or advice,” says Maegan. “It doesn’t have to be a competition – you can still support people.”
Boomerang’s slogan is “Bounce Back Better.” Their goal is to remind the community that there are always better days ahead.
Brett’s advice is simple: Believe in yourself, believe in your goal, challenge yourself, and take action.

“Don't be afraid to take the first step. It can be scary, but it's well worth it,” says Maegan. “Always, always go for your dream.”

Boomerang Coffee Lounge is open Monday-Friday from 6 a.m-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. They’re closed on Sundays.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Crystal Gwizdala.

Crystal Gwizdala is a freelance writer with a focus on health and science. As a lifelong resident of the Tri-Cities, she loves sharing how our communities are overcoming challenges. Crystal is also a serial hobbyist — her interests range from hiking or drawing to figuring out how to do a handstand. Her work can be seen in Wide Open Eats, The Xylom, Woman & Home, and The Detroit Free Press. To see what Crystal’s up to, you can follow her on Twitter @CrystalGwizdala.