Slowly at first, and then all of a sudden—that’s how The Fault in Our Stars author John Green describes falling asleep or falling in love. Decades earlier, it’s how Ernest Hemingway described the process of going bankrupt.
For Dallas coffee shop owners Doug and Liz Davis, it’s precisely the rate at which they nearly lost their business. Murray Street Coffee opened in the Deep Ellum area of Big D in 2005 and soon established itself as a neighborhood favorite. One customer described it to The Dallas Morning News as being, “like a coffee version of Cheers. A place where everybody knows your name.” But over the last decade, circumstances came together to put the future of the café in jeopardy.
At the height of the global recession, Doug Davis lost his day job. Murray Street Coffee’s landlords allowed the shop to defer its rent for several months, and the Davises had been paying back that missed rent, but “not consistently,” Doug Davis admitted to the Morning News. Eventually, the big check came due: Earlier this month, the landlord asked the Davises for the more than $10,000 they owed in a matter of days, or else the café’s locks would be changed.
The Davises were surprised, and needed to rally their community. Doug Davis put out a call to Facebook explaining the need to sell large-sum gift cards. Slowly, Deep Ellum came to the rescue, buying gift cards priced at $100 or even as high as $500. And then all at once, the neighborhood rallied around Murray Street Coffee, with a crowdfunding campaign that raised the five figures needed to stay in business. Over the course of a single weekend, 116 people donated money to save their favorite coffee place.
The story of this small business—and the community it supports—has a happy, almost Hollywood ending. But many small businesses are not so lucky. If we don’t patronize these mom-and-pop shops that make our towns and cities what they are, we could very well lose them.
That’s why, with the Christmas shopping season fast approaching (and the mass hysteria of post-Thanksgiving shopping on Black Friday leading it off), SUCCESS is shining a light on Small Business Saturday, the lesser-known but even more important spending holiday on the calendar. The nationwide event encourages more people to shop small and local to help support their neighborhood’s small businesses.
In the lead-up to Saturday, Nov. 29, we’re highlighting six of our favorite Mom-and-Pops around the country, like an authentic taqueria in Texas, a rare bookstore in Salt Lake City and a seafood market in Florida. Be on the lookout for these stories, and tell us about your own favorite small businesses in the comments.
As the brains behind Small Business Saturday, American Express asks on the project’s website, “Small businesses are there for you. On Nov. 29, will you be there for them?”