ARCADIA — From the old baldy trail to the marsh preserve, seasonal residents and tourists alike can discover an abundance of natural splendor in Arcadia. One thing they might not find as easily is a place to gather over a good cup of coffee.
Coffee shops can be found in nearly every community in the region — except for Arcadia.
Now one group of Arcadians is looking to change that, and they are moving full steam ahead to find partners who can help create a world-class “coffee shop and more” that will serve the thousands who visit the community each year.
The Arcadia Coffeeshop Exploratory Committee was recently awarded a $19,000 grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development to hire experts capable of completing a detailed market analysis and business plan.
“About a year ago, the community convened in a facilitated session to talk about our vision for the future and priorities for heading in that direction,” said Ryan Tinetti, a local pastor who chairs the committee in a press release. “Since the ‘coffee shop and more’ was clearly the favored tipping point as a next step, we thought this would make a great proposal to USDA RD’s Business Development Grant program. We could not have been more delighted when we learned we were successful.”
Laura Galbraith executive director of Venture North said in a press release that her organization is assisting the community organization.
“We’re looking forward to helping the project succeed,” Galbraith said. “We give immense credit to the community and USDA RD for supporting a very creative approach for business development by completing much of the due diligence needed to attract the right entrepreneurial business to their community.”
Venture North is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that finances business and job growth in northwest Michigan.
The Arcadia Coffeeshop Exploratory Committee was originally formed in the wake of community planning and visioning sessions conducted as part of the Sea Grant Sustainable Small Harbors program last October. This state- and federally-funded project aims to assist coastal communities in identifying planning objectives to ensure a secure future for public harbors.
“A number of us, after the visioning sessions that took place in Arcadia last fall, we were really energized by that and wanted to see that work not fall flat but keep going,” Tinetti said. “There were a lot of ideas that were generated out of that session but the one that got unanimous support and everyone was excited about was we need a great coffee shop in our community.”
More recently, the Arcadia Township Planning Commission has revisited their town’s master plan to bring it in line with conclusions drawn from last year’s Sea Grant planning meetings, according to township treasurer Greg Wisner.
“Some people thought it would be nice to have a little bait shop or coffee shop down by the waterfront,” Wisner said in a previous interview. “It’s all about what possibilities are here and what things do the citizens want to protect and what’s important to the citizens that live here.”
While the master plan currently allows for smaller businesses like the proposed coffee shop in some locations in town, the updates are likely to restrict larger businesses within the waterfront district.
The committee is disseminating a Request for Proposals (RFP) to consultants or consultant teams to work with a project leadership team to complete a detailed feasibility study and business plan and then help market both to organizations qualified and interested in starting the business. Proposals are due at 5 p.m. on Oct. 2.
Proposals must include:
- Respondent qualifications and experience;
- How market and out of market surveys will be done;
- Research product demand and options;
- Identification of market territory and synergistic organizations;
- Workforce needs and availability;
- How the three year business plan will be completed along with financial projections; and
- The approach for identifying interested parties to develop the business.
“Ideally, we’d have an organization by June or July of 2021 that is qualified and experienced to take the resources prepared and run a ‘coffee shop and more’ that will be a community gathering place that will flourish in our community,” said Tinetti. “We feel this approach takes a lot of risk out of a startup and positions the community for more growth tied to a successful hub for friendship, good beverages and light food. We hope that RFP respondents will bring their creative interests and partners to this project and propose how they will collaborate with the greater Arcadia community.”
If the market analysis suggests that Arcadia could support a coffee shop, the next step would be to procure entities who want to then step in and solve Arcadia’s missing link by establishing either a nonprofit or for profit business.
“The purpose of the grant is to solicit organizations and firms to do the feasibility study. We’re at the stage of discernment and figuring out if this is even possible,” Tinetti said.
While Tinetti cautions that people should not “get the impression that this is definitely going to happen,” he is hopeful that a coffee shop could thrive year-round in Arcadia.
“Right in the area we have good examples to how it can be, from Yellow Dog (Cafe) down in Onekama to something like Iron Fish (Distillery) that is totally exploding even though it’s in the middle of nowhere,” he said.
Tinetti said the committee will screen proposals by mid-October with a goal of completing interviews by the end of October and selecting a consultant to start the project in early November. Copies of the RFP are available by emailing Tinetti at email@example.com or by calling (231) 970-0883.