“There is a huge need for caffeine here in Richmond County. I can attest to that.”
That’s a quote from Richmond County Chamber of Commerce Vice Chair Caroline Goodwin and one of many positive quips from those who gathered Friday morning inside the new coffee shop on Wiregrass Road for their official ribbon cutting.
Chamber President Emily Tucker started the morning off by talking about how The Salty Bean has been busy throughout the summer, even as temperatures have remained in the 90s throughout the month of September. She said the Chamber is happy to have another member join in what has been a busy five years of growth for the business community.
With Coffee Connections being one of the Chamber’s monthly events, having a new coffee shop in town will fit right in, she said.
“We’ll be a wonderful liaison for you in the community, and we’re so excited for the future with you guys,” Goodwin went on to say, adding that she may be “spilling the beans” about a future endeavor between The Salty Bean and the Chamber.
Tucker announced Thursday that the coffee shop will be adding a second location inside the Chamber’s new office on Rockingham Road across from Cole Plaza in downtown Rockingham. Remodeling of the building is expected to be complete by early November.
Richmond County Commissioner Don Bryant also spoke Friday morning, comparing the new coffee shop’s beginning with his own in Bryant’s Turf and Landscaping.
“I started a business in 1978. You’ve gotta love it. You’ve got your ups and downs, but you’ve gotta have a dream. You’ve gotta have a plan,” he said. “If you keep growing, you gotta keep going, and that’s the name of the game. I’m not much of a coffee drinker when it’s 90 (degrees), but I’ll try anything once.”
Finally, co-owner Jake Ruperd spoke to those gathered and talked about how important it is to support a local business, especially in rural areas like Richmond County.
“I wanted to talk about a couple of reasons why we opened a coffee shop here. The first reason is simple. We love coffee,” said Ruperd. “We have an unreasonable love for coffee. It’s kind of what brings us together.”
His second reason, he said, was a little more hidden. It’s the people.
“I’ve genuinely loved meeting and talking to every single person that’s come in here. It’s easily my favorite part of owning and running the coffee shop,” he said. “The conversations I’ve had are great. Personal connections are what I live for.”
Reason number three is the main reason why the Ruperds opened up The Salty Bean, according to him, and it’s a bit more personal.
“Throughout middle school and high school, all my friends would say, ‘I can’t wait to get out of Richmond County,’ or “There’s nothing to do in Richmond County.’ I took that personal,” Ruperd said. “I may not have been born here, but this is my home, so for someone to say I wanna leave or I can’t wait to leave, that’s harsh to me.”
He went on to say that he’s always believed that if you don’t like something then you work to fix it, mentioning that those who say there’s nothing to do in Richmond County quite simply aren’t looking.
“There’s a lot to do here. There’s a lot to see here. There’s a lot of place to eat here. If you truly believe there’s nothing to do here, then let’s work on that. If you want something else, then make it, but don’t leave. That’s never the solution to anything,” he said. “Over the past year, so many businesses have opened up, so many businesses have upgraded or renovated, and you know what that tells me? It tells me that we believe in Richmond County.
“It tells me that the people that live here, that they believe in Richmond County. I’m proud to be part of the growth here and can’t wait to see Richmond County continue to grow.”