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VIProfile: Justin Shepherd




Story by Angela Reeves

Fifteen years ago, Justin Shepherd had no idea what the future held in store for him, or for Spencer’s Coffee. With a small business loan and absolutely no relevant experience, in March 2005 he and wife Shelley bought Spencer’s Coffee, and he has spent every day of the past 15 years working on making it better. Spencer’s may have a particular focus on coffee and food, but their real goal is to provide a brief moment of calm and contentment in the lives of their guests. “I love seeing people’s days made a little bit brighter,” Justin said.

Justin was born and raised in Shepherdsville, Ky., near Louisville. He moved to Bowling Green in 1999 to attend WKU and never left. He studied journalism and was an editor at the Bowling Green Daily News before buying the business.

Spencer’s was opened by a couple of California transplants in 2001 and Justin was an everyday customer who saw a ton of potential in the business. He was thinking about opening a bookstore or record shop, way before Amazon and Spotify took over those realms, but decided to buy Spencer’s instead. He has been married to his awesome wife, Shelley, for 17 years, and buying the business was her idea!

When they purchased the business in 2005, there were about 30 seats and a relatively small following. Expanding the original business in both size and scope, as well as opening their second location earlier this year, has been incredibly challenging and extremely rewarding for them. “We’ve become a Bowling Green institution, which is awesome, and managed to stay flexible and relevant in terms of our menu, products and atmosphere,” said Justin.

Learning to run a business, much less lead a company, has been way more difficult than 23-year-old Justin thought it would be. He is proud to employ over 30 awesome people, several whom have been with him for the better part of a decade. Justin says it has been such a blessing to be a part of their stories. “I don’t know what the next 15 years holds, but what I can say for certain is that as long as customers keep finding their way to us, we’ll keep doing our best to serve them well.”

As is true for most entrepreneurs, his main passion is his company — constantly thinking of how they will continue to grow and thrive, how to make life a little bit better for his employees, and how to continue to serve Bowling Green well. Outside of work, he spends most of his time relaxing with his wife and kids - Lewis, 14, Owen, 12, and Phoebe, 9, or listening to podcasts.

Shelley is his greatest influence, and one of the hardest-working women he knows. “Her perseverance and faithfulness for her family and friends have challenged me to step up in similar ways. I’ve learned so much from my children, my friends, from my employees, from our customers… Every success I have, I owe to all of these people.”

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