Back in 2011, a tragedy of epic proportions struck the East Village: Starbucks moved in. And not only did it move in, it kicked a beloved local coffee shop, The Bean, out of its flagship location. Even non-coffee drinking elementary school students were outraged, as Majorie Ingall discovered:
Here we have a piece of paper recovered from the recesses of the backpack of an East Village, NYC elementary school student.
Translation from first-grader-ese:
Starbucks: The Bean Instead.
These budding activists handed out their hand-drawn flyers to their schoolmates, plus some for the Bean staff. According to other local kids, they also came up with some righteous chants, such as “The Bean rules, Starbucks drools.”
The Bean didn’t let Starbucks’ incursion get it down. In fact, it expanded, opening up a store to replace the flagship and launching plans for additional outposts. But a bond was forged between the coffee shop and kids who valiantly defended it.
Now, this spring, the neighborhood school that these same kids attend (it’s actually named The Neighborhood School) found out that it might need to shut its library. Since then, grown-ups have raised funds to save it from imminent demise. But they’re still worried about its future.
Enter: The Bean.
Today, the coffee shop is graciously hosting a “Save the Library” fundraiser featuring a kid-run lemonade stand, kid-made art sale, and free coffee refills for a week with the purchase of a Neighborhood School mug. Local blogger EV Grieve interviewed the kids about the relationship they’ve forged with this local business. It’s almost impossible to pick the best part of the interview, but here’s a taste:
M: They kicked out The Bean. We all love The Bean. We were all sad.
A: And The Bean is a small company and a monster business kicked them out. They’re like [waves arm], “You’re gettin’ out.”
M: It was a small company taking over a big company.
A: Just because you have more money and are more popular it doesn’t seem fair that money can kick out a place.
M: If The Bean got there first, it’s not fair that someone who got there second can have it just because they are richer. Also The Bean is better. Once at Starbucks I got a sandwich and there was mold on it. I shoved it at my dad and said, “You can have it.”
If there’s a moral to this story, it’s that relationships still matter, even and especially in hip urban neighborhoods. But also that it doesn’t matter if you spell “Bean” b-e-a-n or b-e-e-n, as long as your heart’s in the right place and you’re in the first grade.