Our original plan was to build our coffee/tea/smoothie shoppe in stages as part of our partnership with Jeremy at the Riverside to revitalize our beautiful, historic town of Cambridge Springs, PA. We began with a small coffee bar in October of 2016. We brewed locally roasted Happy Mug coffee throughout the day for our customers to enjoy while they shopped. We had some people that would just stop by to have a cup of coffee with us and chat, others would bring their to go mugs, fill up and begin their day. Riverside guests would wander over and have a cup of coffee or tea while they sat in our breezeway before they headed into town to shop. We also started brewing coffee for the staff at the high school for their Friday morning meetings. Amazing quality, organic, fair trade coffee is what we wanted for our community and that’s what we were serving up! But we also wanted to bring the power of magic to everyone we met, and not just in the form of that beautiful, hot cup of wake me up…but also just to start someone’s day off with a “have a wonderful day!” and a smile. The next phase was to get our three basin sinks hooked up over the winter, finish our construction, and have our inspection and subsequently open the coffee and tea shoppe portion of our business by June 2017, just in time for the Riverside’s busiest part of the season. Our final part of our plan for August 2017, was to add healthy fruit smoothies and work with the Riverside to add on-the-go healthy meal options like salads, sandwiches, soups, and fruit, giving the community quick, healthy options as they headed off to work or stopped by during lunch hour, or after school. We had a named picked out: French Creek Coffee and Tea…historic! We were moving right along with our plan when tragedy struck…the historic Riverside burned to the ground in May of 2017. Not only was this tragic for the community and myself on a personal level, but the tragedy hit our business…HARD! 54% of our business came from the Riverside guests. 98% of our online sales were Riverside guests. We had just cut a hole in the wall to open a room to exclusively sell Riverside gifts and souvenirs, organic travel sized toiletries. Now what? Well honestly, we switched out our brewer for a Keurig, not nearly as many people were coming to drink coffee, or talk about their day, or talk about positive things happening around us. Sadness and grief, people wanting to know when a rebuild was going to take place…that’s who was walking in the door. People wanted to know why this happened and when we would walk those beautiful halls again. When we could laugh over a glass of wine or tea on the porch, or dance at the Halloween party or Adult prom, enjoy the local music,
stroll in the majestic gardens. We talked more about essential oils and other ways to help with the grief people were feeling, healing crystals to hold on to, Riverside products flew off the shelf. There wasn’t much laughter over cups of coffee and tea. We tried to remain positive “rise of the Phoenix”, something good always come out of tragedy.
As time marched on, it was harder and harder to think of the future when all we could concentrate was how could we market and advertise better to make up the 54% of our customer base who left with the Riverside. We started vending in the summer and that was such a huge help. People were now getting a sample of what we had in our boutique and were coming to see us, business was now headed in the right direction. So every few weeks we talked about the coffee shoppe. It’s something we had wanted from the start. We wanted this to be a place where friends and family could stop by and chat, kids could hang out after school and play board games, host Magic nights, bring in local talent so families in the community had something free to enjoy on the weekends together: music, comedy, poetry, art. We knew now, more than ever, we needed to bring the community together, but we were still grieving ourselves and just weren’t ready to move forward. Then in July, our oldest son, Caleb left for BCT for the Army National Guard. It was the first time he had been away from home and there was a lot of adjustment for our family including emotionally. His younger brother, Aden, stepped in and picked up his shifts at the Boutique. As his training was starting to come to an end we thought about what his options were. He lost his job at the Riverside as many others had as well. He could keep working at the Boutique but he would need full time hours now that he was officially an adult and a HS graduate. One day in one of our very few phone conversations he said “I could work at Starbucks, they are pro-military and they would help with college and I could fast track to a management position.” And then without thinking I said “or you could manage our coffee shop.” There it was…the inspiration had come back. The coffee shop idea was no longer an idea, it was something we needed to jump right into, because both feet first in business is how I’ve learned over the years is the best way to move forward. So during family weekend, we started talking about some ideas. We decided that French Creek Coffee and Tea was no longer the name for what we wanted to do. We wanted a name, a theme, that would bring people together, young and old, the most sophisticated hipsters to our nerdy, unique friends. We didn’t really decide on anything concrete so the coffee shop went back on the back burner. After his graduation and his homecoming, we started talking about ideas again. A military theme would be great in our town because we are, after all, a military town that hosts an armory and a prison. A kilted theme that would be tastes from around the world, but would that be too worldly for this area? And then Caleb said “I have been thinking about a cool idea, Mugs & Muggles, we could base it on the wonder and positivity of Harry Potter but still focus on our core ideals.” It was brilliant! And then the ideas just started flowing…we would call smoothies potions, teas elixirs, coffees well brews of course. The menu started to develop and we knew we were in the right direction. But then the biggest roadblock, funding. We could continue to save money each month and could be up and running in 6 – 8 months but we really felt NOW was the time. NOW is the time people need to get together and get out of the house in the cold, wintery months. NOW is the time for people to move forward and focus on the future. NOW is as good of a time as any. So we took a leap of faith and started a Kiva crowdfunding. This was the perfect idea because it would not only gage what kind of support we would have for our business but it was also something we had to earn and pay back and that made us feel much better about asking for contributors. So here we are, with 29 days left of our Kiva crowdfunding. This dream could be a reality in a month, not several months. So now, here we are, asking you to support our dreams and make this dream a reality by contributing a minimum of $25 until we reach our final goal. Is it possible? I believe anything is possible. I believe that when we work together as a community, as friends, as gracious strangers, we can move mountains. Is this the solution to revitalizing Cambridge Springs? No, but it sure will be a great start in the right direction! To contribute: https://www.kiva.org/lend/1415873