Nov. 15, 2022
In a relatively short span of time, West Mecklenburg High School graduate Cheryse Terry gave birth, lost the woman who raised her, got a job, was laid off, and saw a house fire destroy most of the tangible links to her childhood. Out of that cauldron of hurt and hope and change came Terry’s understanding that she wanted something better for her life and her children.
Today, that something has a name: Archive CLT, a Beatties Ford Road coffee shop that after only three months employs five people and has become an intergenerational meeting place. The venue is grounded in Terry’s determination to help other people preserve the links to their past that she has lost along the way.
To launch her business, Terry did not wait for grant funders. She announced she would raise $40,000 in 40 days. And did so, with the help of donors and two investors who put not just funds into the venture but their expertise in operating and growing a business.
Among Archive’s patrons is Forum regular and former TV reporter Ken Koontz, who shed his forever cynical persona to tell the Forum that being among the intergenerational clients at Archive had “given me a new sense of life because of the young people. There’s a broad cross-section of everybody – engineers who build cell phone towers to a Grammy-nominated artist to an up-and-coming artist….”
Archive CLT leases part of the building at LaSalle Street that many Beatties Ford Road corridor residents would know as a former location of John McDonald’s eponymous Cafeteria. McDonald, who opened his first “Dining Room” in Bedford-Stuyvesant, N.Y, in 1948 before returning to Charlotte, was an entrepreneur like Terry all his life. Terry said she wanted the business to be on the corridor, but was particularly pleased to be in John McDonald’s old haunts.
Questions focused on how Terry could grow the business. Even though Archive is only about 100 days old, Terry said she was ready to do so. She said she would like to acquire land on the corridor for an expansion to accommodate space to help people archive their materials, but in any case promised that the flagship would remain on Beatties Ford Road.
Forum facilitator Winston Robinson, who engages widely in Charlotte business and political circles, offered this:
“I take all my meetings there. What I didn’t realize when I scheduled the first one was… when you take meetings with non-Black people and go to areas that are traditionally non-Black spaces, there’s a bit of you that shrinks…. I have a different sense of confidence when I bring them to what I’ll call ‘my world,’ a sense of confidence that I didn’t even know was there to be activated.”