Faculty Members Open Stores in Acorn Alley IIPosted Jan. 19, 2012
By Meghan Caprez
The College of Communication and Information (CCI) family can be found many places in Kent, from campus to downtown. CCI faculty members are bringing their entrepreneurial skills to Acorn Alley II, a new hot spot for small business owners.
Tree City Coffee & Pastry
Evan Bailey, operations manager of The Tannery and an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is the co-owner of Tree City Coffee & Pastry, which opened Monday in downtown Kent. He and his partners, Mike Beder and Brian Bower, hoped to create a unique, high-quality coffee shop with the mission of featuring organic and direct trade products.
"We want to be perceived as a boutique coffee shop, offering the customers the best and freshest quality products possible," Bailey said.
Tree City offers eight locally-roasted coffees, a variety of homemade pastries and sandwiches, some of which feature organic, freshly ground peanut butter. Bailey also hopes to offer wine for retail sale and at regular wine tasting events.
The shop's atmosphere is a result of a collaboration between husband and wife design team Jason Turnidge and Kathryn Strand, both faculty members from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design. The interior is open and light – defined by a 13’ high tree/fireplace and illuminated by a window-like garage door that takes up a majority of the store's front. The door can be opened to Erie Street in warm weather. A drive-through window is also open year-round for those who wish to have their coffee and meals on the go.
One advantage that sets Tree City apart from other coffee shops is its laptop-friendly environment. The shop offers twice the amount of power outlets than most commercial spaces.
"We decided to plant outlets every four feet, double the number that many spaces offer," Bailey said. "Outlets would normally be found about every eight feet apart."
Many of the materials used to decorate the coffee shop were sourced locally. A large piece of 200 to 400-year-old cherry wood from a barn in Mansfield was used to create the bar. Other pieces around the shop were also recycled from local sources.
"We want people to explore," Bailey said. "We want people to look around and to ask questions."
Bailey believes that his experience in CCI aided him in the creation of his business. He said that skills such as marketing, advertising and public relations were all key in bringing the Tree City brand to reality.
"CCI coursework offered a breadth of experiences that came in super handy when starting a business," Bailey said.
Tree City Coffee & Pastry is open 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.
Aaron Rosenberg, ScanPath UX Manager with The Tannery and the School of Library and Information Science, has helped his wife, Gwen, reach her goal of opening a popcorn shop in downtown Kent.
The 18-month process of the shop's creation included researching technology, creating a blog and, of course, eating lots of popcorn for Rosenberg.
"I was involved in the technology side of things," Rosenberg said. "We wanted something inexpensive so I found an iPad application to use as a register. The small decisions helped us save money in the long run."
Gwen boasts that her husband used his ability to effectively obtain information to help the shop. He was able to create in-depth surveys that told Gwen what she needed to improve before the store's opening.
The store is "pedestrian-friendly," as it offers a walk-up window for popcorn orders and easy-to-hold popcorn cones for window shoppers.
"I'm thrilled and lucky to be a part of this," Gwen said. "The quiet town of Kent is really taking off. I like being a part of the small business surge."
Popped! is not officially open for business yet, but Gwen expects it will be soon. For more information on the shop, visit the Popped! Facebook page.