Looking Back, and Looking Forward

Over the past two years, everything has changed… but more importantly, nothing has changed.

By Wade Preston

When the world shut down in March 2020, we looked around in disbelief. While everything was frozen in an eerie stillness, the industry that we’ve known and loved began to crumble. We had to choose a path forward in the midst of uncertainty. As the shock began to wear off and the dust settled, we could see that the landscape had changed. But for us, the path forward was the same. This challenge has been unprecedented, but that has only pushed us to find unprecedented ways to fulfill the same mission we’ve always had. Here’s a little glimpse of where we’ve been and a nod to where we are going.

Prevail Union Coffee, Montgomery, Alabama

If you know people who worked in the banking, real estate or construction industry in 2008 (or really anyone who was alive at that time), they will talk about “the day the music stopped.”  Of course they’re referring to the mortgage-backed securities crisis that sent the whole world into an economic tailspin that managed to affect not just bankers and mortgage brokers, but pretty much everyone. And that’s exactly what it felt like. The music was playing and we were all nodding our heads in rhythm, going about our business, then… silence. Everyone looked around the room and wondered “what just happened?”, and “how do we get it back to the way it was?” That was 2008. I remember it well.  I was working in the non-profit sphere at the time and, let me tell you, having your job depend on the generous donations of kind strangers is not where you want to be when the economy collapses.

Then, almost 12 years later, “deja vu, all over again” as they say. I found myself at the helm of a company which relies on a large volume of people being physically present to enjoy a cup of coffee, right as the world was launching into what would become a 24+ month global pandemic. 
So how did I handle it, personally? At first… Complete shell-shock. Megan and I, metaphorically (maybe literally), spent a couple of days in a corner hugging our knees, rocking back and forth murmuring incoherently and sobbing. But eventually we, like everyone, had to make the tough decision to wipe the tears away and figure out how we were going to continue forward in this new world that looked nothing like the one we knew a few weeks before. We had to find the answer to the big question….

What do we do now?

The answer was simple, but difficult. We do what we’ve always done. Prevail has never been about selling coffee. We love the stuff, but our mission has always been to bring people together. We looked around and saw a world of people being torn apart in gut-wrenching ways; people isolated and lonely. So we rededicated ourselves to the mission of bringing people together, and we’ve worked hard to find new and innovative ways to do just that in the difficult and sometimes scary landscape of the past two years. As the world is, hopefully, emerging from the worst of the pandemic, I can’t help but feel that this experience has worked as a bit of a kiln to solidify our resolve with heat and pressure. We are embarking on new and innovative projects aimed at connecting people and creating space for authentic and diverse community to thrive. We are building out physical and digital infrastructures to make this a reality.
I’m incredibly excited to share our progress with you all as we move through 2022, and of course invite you to join us! Keep an eye on our blog over the coming weeks as we share our roadmap for 2022. It’s a new year, in a new world, full of changes; but the most important thing is not going to change: our steadfast belief in the simple phrase, “Together We Prevail.”


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