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The counter of the Jilly Beans coffee shop.
Jim Drews | Courtesy

After serving fresh coffee to the community for more than 10 years, Jilly Beans owner Jill Nichols put her business up for sale last week as she looks to retire with her husband.

“We’re ready to retire,” Nichols said. “It’s been wonderful here, but it’s time. I’m looking forward to it. I want to be a grandma.”

Nichols put Jilly Beans on the market last week and is selling the entire business — including all the furniture, existing inventory, and food service equipment — for $89,900. Century 21 Drews realty broker owner Jim Drews, who is in charge of the listing, said there has already been one offer for the 1,000-square-foot coffee and sandwich shop located downtown, but Nichols is looking for backup offers.

“We’ve received and accepted one offer so far,” Drews said. “It came in just a day or two of the listing being put on…The potential buyer is actually a long-time customer, which is kind of unique that someone who was a frequent patron is now interested in making it their own.”

Drews and Nichols said they couldn’t disclose the name of the purchaser.

Drews said part of the reason the price is so low is because it doesn’t include the cost of the building. The new owner of the business would have to pay monthly rent to a property owner in town.

According to Nichols, the decision to put the business up for sale wasn’t prompted by any decrease in sales or financial troubles and said she was simply ready to relax and enjoy her family. Nichols also said she would work closely with whomever purchases Jilly Beans to make sure the business doesn’t close during the transition.

“If a new owner wants to come and change the name, that’s fine, but I think I’m going to sell it just as it is,” Nichols said. “Nothing would change on my half. If they want to make changes, that’s fine. Most

people I’ve talked to would leave it as is. It’s established, and people are familiar with our drinks and sandwiches.”

Of all the businesses and properties that he has marketed, Drews said that Jilly Beans is perhaps one of the most special.

“What makes this so unique is that a potential buyer who may have looked into starting a business like Jilly Beans can now make that happen,” Drews said. “With everything that’s included with it, and because it has been established for 10 years, the business is so much more attractive.”

Jilly Beans was started by Nichols and her business partner Cathy Moore in November 2008 when another coffee shop in the same location, The Gathering, closed. The two women immediately put a bid in on the location and went to work redesigning the building to give it the warm, cozy feel it has today.

Nichols worked at The Gathering as a barista a year before it closed, and she has since served up hundreds of cups of tea, coffee, and lattes at Jilly Beans. Nichols said that while she’s ready to retire, she’s also going to miss all the memories she’s made in the store.

“I love getting to meet all the customers,” Nichols said. “You get to find out about all their families and see their troubles as well as their happy times. I’ve always had good girls to work with here.”
According to junior Susena Finegan, a weekend employee at Jilly Beans since April 2014, Nichols is one of the best employers she’s worked with. While she remains optimistic about a new owner, she said she anticipates some growing pains.

“Jill has been the best boss I’ve ever had,” Finegan said. “She is so sweet and really created a wonderful community between her employees and customers. I don’t feel ‘out of the job’, because I know that whoever takes over will do their best to continue that community, however, it might be hard for me to adjust. Each boss has their own way of doing things.”

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Thomas Novelly
Collegian Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Novelly was born in Novi, Michigan, but was raised in Franklin, Tennessee, making him a self-proclaimed "Yankee gone South." Thomas began writing for The Collegian as a sophomore, and since has served as a reporter, columnist, and Assistant City News Editor. He has also worked for two major publications, interning at the Washington Free Beacon in D.C. and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has been seen in National publications such as CBS News, National Review Online, Stars And Stripes, and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.