The Dreamer Coffee Shop is 'saved' after $1,985 fundraiser


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Central Michigan University students and Mount Pleasant residents attend the Save The Dreamer event on Jan. 18 at The Dreamer Coffee Shop.

After struggling with financial issues for the past couple months, The Dreamer Coffee Shop aims to get back on track using the $1,985 it earned from a Jan. 18 fundraiser.

Titled "Save the Dreamer," the event attracted a large crowd of local musicians and volunteers to aid the business' financial future. 

One donor to the event was Harrison Township junior Olivia Cyman, for whom the coffee shop became a place of refuge in the wake of an abusive relationship.

"My friends would come here to meet with me and it was my place to get away from it all and be productive," Cyman said. "(The Dreamer) is my second home." 

Though she doesn't know how much the money will help the business, manager Allie Carpenter said it's a great start toward getting the coffee shop back on track financially. 

“(Finances) started going downhill a long time ago,” Carpenter said. “We were doing pretty well for a long time, but without our owner being here and being supported by him, it dragged things down.”

The Dreamer Coffee Shop has been in business for more than three years, opening its doors to the Mount Pleasant community on Sept. 23, 2014. 

Ike Han, who owns The Dreamer, opened the business and rented the building after former tenant University Cup closed its doors. Han decided he would put his business studies to the test and open up the space as a new coffee shop.

"My goal to open the coffee shop was achieving one of my dreams — bring good coffee to (Central Michigan University) students and the Mount Pleasant community," Han said. "Then, helping more people to achieve their dreams, that’s why I named it The Dreamer."

Management problems began after Han left for China in July 2017 when his student visa expired. The previous manager left around the same time and assistant manager Lauren Bindschatel and Carpenter taking over where Han left off.

“We were handed a situation where we didn’t know anything about the shop," Carpenter said.  "We had to learn how to run the business without knowing anything about how to run the business, and not knowing what bills we were behind on. We just had to figure things out.”

Han wanted the coffee shop to “take care of itself” when he left and get into a routine, Bindschatel said, but that didn’t happen.

“I still have interaction with him and I still talk to him, but I thought that’d it be more helpful than it ended up being overall,” Bindschatel said. 

With the shop having to put its revenue toward bills instead of maintaining the store, it was forced to alter its menu to make up for shortages.

“We never had an issue with having enough coffee in stock to make coffee for customers,” Carpenter said. “Now we can’t put as much (money) toward buying coffee to have a full menu all the time and that makes it hard for us to succeed as a business. We just want to be able to serve everything all the time.”

Bindschatel and Carpenter are both optimistic about where The Dreamer will go from here.

“We have a good amount of followers that want to come here, that enjoy being here,” Carpenter said. “ I think a good team of people who like something can make it work. With our staff and the people who love this coffee shop, we’ll be able to be there for something we all care about and that will have a huge impact on our business.”

Lake Orion senior Jonathan Lorts, who attended the Jan. 18 fundraiser, said he viewed The Dreamer's financial issues as a scary sign for what is to come in Mount Pleasant. 

"Coffee shops have really become the cultural hot spots of our time," Lorts said. "By losing this place, the city will be losing a place for creative ideas to unite and an outlet for people to come together for good conversations." 

In regards to leadership for The Dreamer, the shop is in search of a new owner.

“We’re looking for someone with maybe a business degree,” Carpenter said. “I think this would be a good opportunity for a young business man, or woman, to come in and run this place.” 

Contributions to this article were made by staff reporter Samantha Shriber.

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