I was freaking out. Well, not me so much, but Mrs. Darrin’s Coffee, she was nuts. After looking for spaces all over Indianapolis for about 4 months I took a leap of faith and signed a lease. I made sure to sign the lease on my birthday, just so I’d never forget. Now it was time to get this place opened and start getting revenue in the door. I’ll never forget the look on my son and daughters face when we told them that Darrin’s Coffee officially had a new home. I’ll always cherish the look on their faces when we went to Akards and I got them their own keys to the store. My friend Carla Ayres, she owns the UPS Store , gave me a big hug.
Before I opened the shop, I would meet with a very good friend, Craig Andler. Craig and I hit it off the very first time we met. He called me “Vanilla” and I called him “Chocolate”. Craig was a 72 year old former “hell-raising, reefer smoking, cheatin’ and stealin’ jazz drummer.” And of course, I’ve had my share of bad moves and choices. Let’s just leave it at that. We would sit for a couple of hours, and we would drink a French Press of Yirgacheffe and talk about how “blessed and highly favored” our lives had become. At our last coffee, Craig told me that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Craig was optimistic, but he was a trained counselor that “cut his teeth” in hospice and he was also realistic. After I signed my lease, I sent my very dear friend this text, “Well my brother, Zionsville just got a little more vanilla. I just signed my lease, and I am going to be in the little place right next door to Plum’s Upper Room. Darrin’s Coffee officially has a home” He replied, “Well, they’d be a fool if they didn’t sell your coffee exclusively! I can’t wait to come and check out your new digs my brother.” That was our last communication. He died 5 days later.
There were so many things that needed to be done to get the store up and running, I had no idea where to begin. So, I closed my eyes and said to God, “Well Lord. You brought me this far, and I have no idea what to do next, so I need you to show me what to do.”
When I was 11, we would watch the Sunday night Disney movie, and my mom would always make dessert. (Hey, I’m a big guy, what do you expect??) We watched a movie called, “The Richest Cat in the World.” Disney movies are full of pearls of wisdom all of the time, but this “pearl” has been something that has always stuck with me. I always say it, usually under my breath, when I feel a bit overwhelmed. This quote helps me put everything in perspective, “Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life is very hard.”
When I knew that I needed to move into a space, my very good friend Ryan Holohan, who’d been no less than a blessing, and I went down into his basement and “white-boarded” everything out. Shortly after, I met with a friend, Frank Leonard, and he told me that he would help me in any way he could. And Frank, a man of his word, was there. So with my notebook in hand, I started to go through the checklist Ryan and I created. I knew what I wanted to do, so I got on Craigslist. Ryan would send me different items that he found and I’d go knocking and negotiating. Inch by inch. I found a tea shop that went out of business, and they had a steel table and chairs. Life’s a cinch. I found a fridge, and RIGHT when I went to go check it out, it stopped working and the gentleman gave it to me for free. I called my fraternity brother, Taurese Edge, and he sent his cleaning crew and did some major cleaning! My mom, she’s a mother in the truest sense of the word. Yard by yard. I worried about getting approval from the Building Inspector and Fire Marshall. Life is hard. I needed some major plumbing. Inch by inch. I called Stokes Plumbing; fellow church members came and put my mop sink and three basin sink in the store. Life is a cinch. Wayne Delong, the Zionsville Planning Director pulled the Fire Marshall and Building Inspector together and we did a punch list as to what was needed, and I got the final approval to get open.
Nathan Frampton, CEO of Fanimation, was a dude I met at a Chamber Event and we’d subsequently connected via Facebook and Twitter. While I was checking status updates a couple of days before I was going to open, Nathan sent me an IM. He said, “If you need a fan, you let me know.” My experience in going to college in the Deep South, far away from home, taught me to accept help. You accept help, because you never want to take away a chance for someone to receive a blessing, so I told him, “Boom”. I need a fan. The next day his dad, Tom, came by and did a quick once over. Later that day, I had some of Fanimation’s nicest fans. Shortly after, I opened.
When I was at Starbucks and I started roasting coffee in the kitchen, and then going to the Farmers Markets to sell coffee, I never thought that it would all come together so quick. We were so bootstrapped, that at our very first Farmers Market, we couldn’t break a $20 bill. But after that first hour, I’ll never forget Tiff looking at me and saying, “Darrin, we can do this.”
Today was the anniversary of the first day we opened and started selling coffee at 120 S. Main, and I am happy. I am not proud, I am grateful. There have been so many people along the way that have come in and supported. There have been so many times when I’ve turned away to get a coffee, and there would be a $5.00 bill stuffed into the Retirement Fund jar sitting on my counter and the person I was helping was out the door. The other business owners in the Village that would give me a hand here or there. (Patrick has been a lifesaver more times than I can count!) There have been some bumps along the way, that’s life, like my Line brother from Lake Charles says, “That let’s you know who’s in your corner and who ain’t.” I’ve been surprised, very surprised, but things are as they are and people show who they are.
Thank you family and friends. I can’t wait to see what the future brings. I am truly the richest cat in the world. I’m just sayin’.