Though rumours swirled around for months about their anticipated closure, The Valley Social, a beloved hangout spot for hipster powder-hounds and digital nomads, officially closed their doors on February 3.
The café had an unusual birth, with previous owner Dan Whillans entering and winning an essay competition asking to define his ideal small town coffeeshop. The prize? A café in White Rock. However, rather than continuing to run the pre-established business, he moved what equipment he could over to Fernie, and began The Valley Social.
A few years into the venture, Taylor Entz–The Valley Social’s currently owner heard that Whillans was ready to move on to his next adventure, seeking to part ways with the space. Having been considering the prospect of owning his own café, Entz agreed to take over the business from Whillans in July of 2018.
Fast forward another year and a half, and the café continued to bustle with first dates, Sunday morning conversations, and afternoon boosts of caffeine. Ultimately, Entz upheld The Valley Social’s role in the community as a space of creation, relaxation, and togetherness.
“My goal with was to take, and continue what Dan had started…have that community coffeeshop that people can go to and spend eighty hours a week, enjoy themselves and meet,” reminisced Entz, mourning the end of one phase yet beaming with excitement for the next.
For Entz, the biggest takeaway from his time steering the vessel of The Valley Social was the sense of community he felt in being able to interact with customers from his spot behind the counter. Not only did he get to share in their stories, but those conversations are what fostered a sense of belonging for him.
“The biggest thing is… just how truly amazing it’s been to meet the people that you see on the streets,” said Entz. “Before taking over The Valley Social, I definitely felt like a community member. But I really got involved with the community, and felt like I was part of the community, once I was in there and once I got to know all those core people, and how amazingly talented and diverse the people we have here are.”
Though the trendy cafe may be done serving flat whites and decadent scones, Entz is not only holding onto his ownership of the location, but seeks to revitalize it into another community space. Recognizing that local businesses as such are what keep the heart of Fernie beating, Entz sees it as a priority to maintain the air of bringing people together with his new business venture.
“We’re trying our hardest to make sure that we keep that foot forward and that we focus on that community piece, being somewhere that is cemented in and people feel comfortable,” said Entz.
Though the new business is still in the early stages of development, Entz not only looks forward to the transformation, but is in high hopes it will be only a matter of weeks rather than months left until the doors can open once again.
In the meantime, groggy-eyed locals in need of their daily caffeine fix can still head to one of the many cafés speckled throughout Fernie, including the newly opened Rooftop Coffee Roasters, which supplied The Valley Social with their beans before closure.