Since opening Vardagen in 2012 I had an interest in adding coffee to the store but when we were just starting out it wasn't feasible. Bootstrapping the build-out of the store and the growth of the brand was a huge challenge in itself, so it wouldn't be for a few years later that I decided to take on the coffee project. I had made some visits to NYC and was really influenced by Jane Motorcycles and Saturday's Surf. They both had espresso bars in their retail stores and it seemed like it added a lot to the experience. They had higher priced items that their customers would purchase periodically, but the coffee was something that brought them in more often and created a community.
I noticed our shop was in a similar situation. We had customers that would pop in to buy t-shirts and wonder if we had anything new even though they had just visited the week prior. I could tell they wanted to be more connected with us and we desired the same. After drinking better coffee on my trips it was hard to come back to an area void of freshly roasted coffee and more traditional ways of serving it.
As things go in the most random of ways, I found someone's wallet at a local cafe. After searching quite a bit I was able to contact the owner via a Facebook message. When we met so he could get his wallet back he offered me some coffee that he had roasted. He introduced me to a new local roaster, Brickhouse Coffee Roasters. I really connected with the guys there and with their help I began to plan the espresso bar build-out.
The cost of the build-out was roughly $30k so we did a Kickstarter campaign to see if we could get help with some of the equipment costs and also see if there were other people around Fishers that cared about getting better coffee in the community. We set the goal for $8k and we raised it in just a few days. A lot of people were really generous and gave us just the boost we needed to get the project done. Our top tier backers were Reynold's Farm Equipment and 12 Stars Media and the next tier was backed by Henry Heller Music and Studio 116.
The build-out was all custom and to keep costs to a minimum we did all the work ourselves. The goal was to keep it simple but also integrate it into the store so it maintains a great experience whether you come for coffee, apparel, or both.
Old lath up-cycled for wall art
Mortise and tenon joints and live edge white oak for our hand wash station
Custom wall mural and wallpaper
We opened the espresso bar in June of 2015 and featured Sure Shot Cold Brew on tap, which was the first around our areas as far as I know. The picture at the top of this post is the line for our grand opening. We had an amazing turn out and a great time.
Even though we pushed hard and successfully launched Sure Shot, the grand opening was only a single landmark of the vision. We're constantly working on improving and offering more to our customers when we feel the timing is right, and we're confident in our process. We don't want to rush things and let quality take a hit- this project is about building something great together. The more support we get from our community, the more we can offer. After all, that's the essence of a genuine, local coffee shop.