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Features : Editorial Last Updated: Feb 14, 2013 - 12:28:28 PM

Coffee shop's closing leaves bitter taste: who's to blame?
By Jennifer Johnston
Feb 13, 2013 - 9:38:03 AM

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On Saturday, February 2, Fired Urth Espresso Bar and Bakery served its last handcrafted pour-over coffee on Daniel Island. The store's closing came just four months after its opening on Seven Farms Drive, when owners Missy and Chris Wallace took over the space previously occupied by Et Cetera gourmet food shop and cafe. The couple had intended to bring an "artisan" style coffee house to the island, featuring food and drink that was locally-sourced, and organic, wherever possible. And they asked patrons to exercise patience with the cup-by-cup preparation of coffee, with the assurance that it would be well worth the wait.
Whether it was a need for speed, or something else, that kept Fired Urth from operating at a more profitable level is not clear. It seemed Daniel Islanders were more than ready to welcome a spot to meet and grab a cuppa joe, having waited out the vacancy at the address since February 2012. But as the Wallaces prepared the say good-bye, they clearly had opined as to why the store did not succeed, and shared that opinion with candor. In a letter posted on the doors of Fired Urth just days before locking up for good, they took what appeared to be a parting shot: "Although we have some repeat customers that love great coffee and baked items, unfortunately there are more people on DI that just do not care... DI has to start supporting what they have or they will continue to lose establishments like ours. We really thought we had made a great choice in opening our business here. Sadly, there are just not enough foodie people on this island to understand or appreciate what we do."
So the closing of Fired Urth once again begs the questions that are often circulated when island businesses close up shop: Are island residents responsible for the success of island businesses, and are islanders culpable when a business does not succeed here? Does the "support local" movement charge residents alone with a duty to patronize new places of commerce in the absence of marketing to off-islanders? And should the diners, shoppers, and service-seekers of Daniel Island be more willing to alter their wants or needs to better match that which island businesses offer, instead of vice versa?
We want the feedback of our readers on this matter.Thank you to Jay Karen for his insightful letter printed below. Please share your thoughts via email to, and we may print them in our next issue.
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