Groundswell Coffee in St. Paul is turning to its customers to raise money for an expansion—and offering a unique incentive in return.
Owners Seth McCoy and Tim Gilbert are asking customers to buy $1,000 shares that will help nearly double the size of the 1,300-square-foot coffee shop. But instead of owning part of the business, investors will be entitled to a free glass of beer or wine each day for the rest of their lives, or until Groundswell is no longer in business, whichever comes first.
Groundswell is located at the corner of Thomas and Hamline avenues in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. The expansion is expected to cost between $125,000 and $150,000, and the owners hope to sell about 75 shares starting this week.
McCoy told Twin Cities Business on Wednesday that the plan is to expand into the adjacent vacant space that used to be a yarn shop; this will increase Groundswell’s seating capacity from 15 to about 55. The owners also want to expand their food and baked goods offerings and plan to start selling wine and local craft beer, including those made by Surly Brewing Company, Harriet Brewing, and Indeed Brewing Company. Additionally, the expanded location will contain space dedicated to selling arts and craft items from local artists.
McCoy said the coffee shop currently has a staff of four but plans to hire at least six more people after the expansion.
Groundswell has already taken over the lease of the former yarn shop and has hired a designer and contractor to renovate the new space. The owners hope to complete the expansion by March and start selling beer and wine by April, after Groundswell receives a liquor license.
McCoy and Gilbert got the idea to raise money from its customers from Northbound Smokehouse, a Minneapolis brewpub that also sold $1,000 shares in exchange for a free glass of beer each day for life. McCoy said that the fundraising effort will be a good way for the business to immerse itself in the community.
Groundswell’s coffee beans come from Minneapolis-based roaster Dogwood Coffee Company. It uses milk that comes from grass-fed cows at Autumnwood Farm in Forest Lake and honey provided by Bare Honey in St. Paul. Meanwhile, its chai is crafted by St. Paul-based Gray Duck Chai.

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