June 2, 2009

Despite S.O.S. fundraiser, Hallowed Grounds not in danger of sinking

When the popular student-run coffee shop, Hallowed Grounds, issued an S.O.S. call for financial assistance, they didn’t realize how seriously their patrons would take them. The “Save Our Shop” fundraiser, held Monday, raised over $1,000 for the struggling coffee shop, over $200 of which was simply donated.

Fourth-year Jiyoung Han, general manager and the event organizer, was quick to point out that Hallowed Grounds was not in danger of closing

“We are not going down and we’re not about to be closed down,” she said.

Jasmine Heiss, a third-year who has worked at Hallowed Grounds for two years, said the event was held due to unexpected circumstances, such as a broken espresso machine and coolers, rather than serious economic or managerial mistakes.

“These are not exactly the best financial times,” she said, “and after these complications, we had to show some gesture to ORCSA to let them know that we’re trying.”

Han said the fundraiser was held to show that ORCSA didn’t need to subsidize Hallowed Grounds to make up for lost funds.

“The event was more a political move than anything else,” Han said. “Hallowed Grounds is not some sort of parasite that’s looking to ORCSA for annual bailouts. [It] can account for its own financial viability.”

Han said the built-in coolers were over a decade old.

“Not only do we have to replace them, but we also have to shell out for installation costs. This kind of work was not calculated into the coffee shop budget at the beginning of the fiscal year, so I thought it would be a nice occasion to hold some sort of fundraising event to parry the unexpected expense,” she said.

Hallowed Grounds’ strictly nonprofit business model also contributed to its financial instability. The coffee shop does not aim to make a profit off of cash-strapped students, which is why coffees, candy, and soda will “forever be fixed at alarmingly cheap rates,” Han said.

“We consequently accumulate less revenue throughout the year, which puts us in a pinch when unforeseen expenses arise,” she said.

The name of the fundraiser, S.O.S., was a red flag to coffee shop regulars across campus, who took this as a dire sign that Hallowed Grounds was closing down—and that other coffee shops would soon follow suit.

“Local businesses are closing up every day,” said Maimouna Thioune, a second-year who frequents Hallowed Grounds. “When we heard about the S.OS. party, we all just assumed that the coffee shop had also suffered serious financial setbacks.”

At the event, staff and customers took part in silent auctions, employee date raffles, and enjoyed live music from student bands The Butts and Patchwurk.

Students and faculty members can rest assured that Hallowed Grounds is safe, Han said.

“People need to stop sensationalizing the event and stop freaking out about where they’re going to get their caffeine fix next year. [S.O.S.] was a pun. A simple, innocuous pun.”