Lytonia Coleman, owner of Isaac’s Crazy Blessings banana box grocery, won a photo contest with this picture of herself working in her Warrenton store.

Lytonia Coleman, owner of Isaac’s Crazy Blessings in Warrenton, was recently named one of five winners in a photo contest sponsored by Thread Capital, a new nonprofit arm of the North Carolina Rural Center in Raleigh.  

Coleman and the other contest winners, who all benefited from services offered by the Rural Center and Thread Capital, will be featured on the nonprofit’s website and social media accounts.

In submitting her nomination, Coleman wrote: “I started this business after a drastic life event that would redirect my journey. Now, 60 is when most people are preparing for retirement. So, this redirection at this age would lead me to selling liquidated foods from major retailers.

“You see, what I really love is giving back, and my lord and savior Jesus Christ allowed my dream to one day own a market come true. I didn’t know it would take 42 years, but God kept the covenant. So, I guess I am telling Abraham and Sarah’s story, old and barren, would later in life birth a son Isaac, meaning laughter, so I named the business Isaac’s.”

Coleman said she knew nothing about profit and loss statements, but the N.C. Rural Center and Thread Capital became her instructor, a “guiding force in navigating me safely over the hills and valleys of my crusty knowledge in business, successfully giving Isaac’s the funding it needed to grow.”

Coleman wrote that her customers are excited to see affordable organic foods being offered in her store, a surplus grocery store sometimes referred to as a banana box grocery because of the way the grocery items are packaged.

“Every time I open a banana box, I’m amazed,” Coleman wrote. “My brother would say, ‘That’s a lot of bananas,’ and I replied,  ‘Banana boxes are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.’ I recall one of my very first customers took one look at me and said, ‘Lytonia, you’re crazy,’ and I said, ‘Hey, that’s the name of the store, Isaac’s Crazy Blessings.’”

Todd Brantley, senior director of public affairs with the North Carolina Rural Center, said that Thread Capital was started to handle the Rural Center’s small business lending in rural parts of the state. Thread Capital provides loans up to $50,000 to entrepreneurs in all 100 North Carolina counties.

In addition to making loans, Thread Capital provides business coaching and technical assistance, and offers small business owners a chance to network with others across the state.

“We evaluate the whole package,” Brantley said. “We’re more than the amount of loans we make. We make ourselves available to the clients.”

Small business owners can apply for a loan from Thread Capital by completing an online application at threadcap.org and submitting a business plan. Applicants must: be age 18 or older; have the business based in North Carolina and not involved in adult entertainment, multi-level marketing, real estate speculation, lending, or gambling; have no unsettled public judgment, bankruptcy, delinquent taxes and delinquent student loans unless they are on an active payment plan; and a sound business idea. Also, the business must be for-profit, and anyone who owns more than 20 percent of the business must sign on the loan.

Coleman said she is thankful for the help she has received so far from the Rural Center and Thread Capital.

“I thank God for every soul he has placed on this journey,” she wrote in an email to the Rural Center.

Isaac’s Crazy Blessings is at 102 College St., Warrenton, and can be reached by calling 252-257-3932.