Coffee shop pours into downtown

Beginning Monday, Oak Harbor will have its own downtown coffee shop.

Big Cup Coffee and Gifts is located on Pioneer Way in the heart of oold downtown.

Although only a few blocks from Starbucks which is located in a spiffy new shopping center where most business is drive-up, Big Cup is in a different frame of time. The owners hope people who are windows shopping or who work downtown will step off the sidewalk into their establishment, or perhaps take a seat at one of the two sidewalk tables.

“It’s an opportunity for people downtown to get coffee and sit down,” said Walter Pierce, who owns the new business with his wife Gwen. “Downtown is a place where people want to come.”

The Pierces bought the building in June. It formerly housed Oak City Sports, and half is still occupied by Truly Magic Toys. Since purchasing the building, the Pierces have been busy acquiring city permits and hiring contractors to remodel the interior. Still, it’s nothing fancy. A coffee bar, some tables and chairs, a sofa and two easy chairs are meant to make people comfortable, not to impress interior decorators.

“This is more quaint,” Pierce said, contrasting Big Cup to Starbucks. “It’s been a fun project.”

Coffee is being supplied by Seattle’s Best, and the menu features a wide variety of coffee-based drinks. For hungry people, a display case that went in Saturday will tempt them with pastries sent fresh each morning from Langley Bakery.

“We wanted something better than Costco muffins,” said Pierce, explaining his successful effort to obtain pastries from the popular bakery in Langley, which is presently expanding into Coupeville.

While coffee and pastries will be their mainstay, the business also offers a selection of gifts. “We focused on four or five artists,” Pierce said. “We’re tinkering with the gifts right now — we’re not sure what our audience wants.” They have items they hope will appeal to men and women, plus a selection of children’s books. Much of the space is devoted to racks of greeting cards.

The couple moved to Oak Harbor from Mukilteo, and used the sale of their house to help start the business. They now live in an apartment upstairs. “I was in the corporate world and wanted to try something different,” Walter Pierce said. Gwen Pierce is keeping her day job in Mukilteo until they are sure the new business will succeed.

Any new business is a gamble, and the Pierces are hoping Oak Harbor residents will support a downtown coffee shop. This is their dream, and they want it to succeed.

“We’re doing this with a certain optimism,” Pierce said.

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