KOSBE Success Story: Bagel Exchange

September 01, 2015

Prior to moving to Kingsport, Keith Cunningham, owner of The Bagel Exchange, lived in New York City and worked for the New York City Police Department. He had an interest in moving out of the New York area; after retiring he reached out to the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and was directed to Move to Kingsport, weeks later Keith moved to the area. Although the move to Kingsport was great for him there always seemed to be something that was missing.

Keith decided to embark on the journey of owning and operating a New York Style Bagel Shop in Downtown Kingsport. He contacted the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce once again and was directed to KOSBE. Keith began his journey with KOSBE in 2011, he has been with KOSBE from start to finish and we continue to be an outsource for Keith and The Bagel Exchange. Keith relied heavily on the guidance of Aundrea Wilcox, Executive Director of KOSBE, Keith said, “If Aundrea had said absolutely not to the idea of a bagel shop in Kingsport, I probably wouldn’t have even tried, but she thought it would be a very popular thing to do here.”

Aundrea connected Keith with Pathway Lending initially to coach him on what questions to ask the bank for lending; Pathway Lending was so impressed with his business plan that they lent him the money. Pathway still acts as mentor for Keith; they brought the Goldman Sachs Program to his attention. Goldman Sachs reaches out to 10,000 small businesses in the country. It is an application and interview process, but once Keith got accepted he went through a four month online program and they sent him to Boston for two weeks. The programs focus is on a business growth plan, every aspect has a mentor for the topic, for instance, the accounting topic would have accountants that would come in and be able to answer any questions. “The biggest benefit I got out of the Goldman Sachs Program was the networking. They connected me with Bagel manufacturers, and other Bagel shop owners,” said Keith.

New things are happening for The Bagel Exchange; they have created a new upstairs dining area and are continuing to have interests for catering. They cater for breakfast and lunch and have many different options to choose from. The Bagel Exchange is located at 107 West Center Street, Kingsport, TN 37660.

Check out Keith’s Interview!