Kind + Kups Coffee in Cleveland celebrated their one-year anniversary with a birthday bash on April 3. Families from across Blount County came out to join the celebration. Kind + Kups invited customers to come play lawn games, enter coloring contests, and enjoy their new birthday cake frappe topped with whipped cream and sprinkles (released for the big bash and will remain on the menu.)
When asked about what’s been most surprising about opening a business during a pandemic, April Browning, one of Kind + Kups’ owners, replied, “We have been most surprised at how steady business has been. There were dips here and there, but we have developed such loyal customers that it’s actually humbling.
“We have learned a lot about our community as well. We have met so many people and made new friends through this journey. We have been able to help support other small businesses. We get excited when we can help the community.”
A few ways Kind + Kups involves the community is by hosting “Story Time” once a month. Live book readings are followed by a free snack and craft. Last month they hosted their first “Open Mic Night” and many talented people showed up and participated. They also have sold t-shirts to raise money for schools and hosted the football radio talk show. Kind + Kups also offers “Sip and Shops” where they allow other small businesses to set up booths in the shop.
“There are so many stories we could share as a team about how kind this community and our customers have been to us,” Browning said. “It truly humbles me when we hear how a coffee sleeve impacted a person’s day or for example, I had the opportunity to sit and chat with an elderly lady who was dining in the shop alone. She explained to me how she lost her husband and was new to the community and didn’t know anyone. We sat and talked for about an hour and she was so thankful to have someone to chat with.
“And it’s for people like her that Kind + Kups exists. We love seeing small groups meet and having teens hang out after school. This journey has taught me that anything is possible with God. You grow up learning that and saying you know it, but it’s not until you realize none of this would be possible without Him that it really hits you. If you had told me that two people [she and her husband Kevin] who had never owned or run a business, who have no knowledge of coffee and barely drink it, and who live in a little country town in the heart of Blount County would build and open a coffee shop, I would never have believed it. Yet here we are a full year later.
“I just want to take a minute to thank all the people who drive from all over Blount County, and some even further than that, to support us. You will never know how much we love and appreciate your business and I know it sounds crazy, but I even pray for our customers. We have a prayer request box in the shop, but I pray for every person who shops with us too. I pray blessings on them, and I thank the Lord for them because to me, they have become family and have truly blessed ours.”