| 03.21.2018

Coffee and community

Brandy Sullivan looks to make an impact in Moscow through City Council


One World Cafe at Sixth and Main Street, the cafe with doors hanging from the ceiling and art covering almost every inch of the brick walls.

The cafe on the corner started as a simple conversation fueled by the desire to bring a welcoming, kid-friendly coffee shop to Moscow.

Deborah “Brandy” Sullivan was one of the women who had a vision for One World. Sullivan has been active in the community for over a decade as a co-owner of One World and was elected to Moscow City Council in November.

One World was born out of the desire to bring a unique coffee shop to town that provides a fun space for art and community, Sullivan said. Despite no business experience, Sullivan and her husband, co-owner Jack Sullivan, and other owners at the time made the jump.

“It is not something we had ever really thought about doing,” Sullivan said. “A lot of times people think, ‘Oh, one day I want to own my own business,’ but it is not something that ever occurred to us. But once we headed down that path and got excited about it, it just started growing.”

Even in moments of doubt, Sullivan said she and the team decided to push through.

“There (was) just so much support and we just got to that point of just deciding, ‘You know, what’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but it could be really amazing for us and the whole community,’ and fortunately that is how it worked out,” Sullivan said.

A few months after the initial conversation, the ball was rolling and Sullivan and her team were on track to becoming new business owners. 

One of the original members alerted the team that the Moscow Florist shop location on Sixth and Main Street was about to be available.

Sullivan said they knew it was the perfect place and decided to go for it

A building that housed white pegboard walls and low florescent lights went under the hammer and transformed into what is now the quirky coffee shop centered at the heart of town.

“We wanted a lot of sort of nooks and soft seating and study spaces, places to meet, be social, be alone, just that variety and have it feel just very homey and comfortable,” Sullivan said. “We said we are not interested in an experience where ‘OK, finish up so someone else can have your spot.’”

Now, the cafe is that and so much more — community members, students and families alike seem to have sewn One World into the fabric of Moscow.

“We love it that people will come and stay, we have our regulars, we have students thank us in their thesis papers for being their sort of third place where they would come and just work,” Sullivan said.

After 13 years as a business owner and an active community member, Sullivan said it was time to find the next path in her life.

Sullivan’s foray into politics began in 2008 when she started serving on the Urban Renewal Agency (URA), a local agency focused on promoting sustainable economic growth and community enhancement, according to the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency. She said through the URA, she became familiar with the demands of local government and decided it was time to, once again, take a leap.

“I came to realize that is probably where I can be most effective to achieve things for the city, is just kind of by taking that leap,” Sullivan said.

Sara Beth Pritchett, co-owner of One World, said she knew the impact Sullivan was going to have on the community from the moment she heard the news.

Pritchett says Sullivan’s diligence at the cafe and her thoroughness in everything she does is what makes her the perfect person for Moscow City Council.

“I really, sincerely, with all of my heart, truly believe that there is nobody better for the job,” Pritchett said. “This is the best thing to happen to Moscow in years and years.”

Downtown Moscow has been growing and changing, with new and varied businesses opening year after year, and those changes open doors for discussion. Sullivan said that was one of her main motivators in running for City Council.   

Beyond her political agenda, Sullivan said the opportunity to listen to the people of Moscow is what drove her to pursue a career in politics.

“I really want to know, ‘Well, what do you think?’ and ‘What do you think?’ whether it is for the business or on the city,” Sullivan said. “The more input we have, the more ideas people from different backgrounds have, the better decisions we can make for the city.”

Outside of business and politics, Jack Sullivan said his wife always works to make things easier and better for everyone around her — including her political opponents.

During the hustle and bustle of Election Day in November, Sullivan and her husband took a break to deliver coffee to the people working on her campaign. On the trip to One World, she noticed her opponent, Walter Steed, out on the corner carrying signs for his own campaign. Instead of driving by, like many would in the face of their opponent, Sullivan said she made another decision.

“‘Let’s go get Walter a coffee, so we went to One World and got Walter a coffee so he could have a warm coffee while he was out. That is how kind she is,” Jack Sullivan said. “‘He is a good guy, he is my opponent, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve kindness, so let’s get him a coffee.’ That is classic Brandy.”

Meredith Spelbring can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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