Author: Lauren Colarusso, BSU student
Behind the counter in a small 350 square foot pocket at the end of a small strip of businesses in Hingham, from 5am – 1pm you can find Alicia Harkness behind the counter at the Coffee Corner. In 2011, while not finding much fulfillment in her job at the time, Alicia took the “for sale” sign in the window of a local coffee shop as a literal sign to change the trajectory of her career, and focus, instead on something that she felt driven to do. No stranger to the food service industry she felt confident as she took the reins from the previous owners.
Although she had previous experience in the food service industry, the transition to business owner did not come without its learning curves. Alicia learned how to inventory and order accordingly, as well as bookkeeping and all the paperwork that goes along with owning a business. She did find that the previous owners were correct in all their predictions about the flow of business. Because of this, her transition went pretty smoothly, and she has been able to adjust for busier times with more help when needed to ensure positive customer experiences no matter the season. She learned the nuances of business ownership. Alicia never let these challenges dissuade her, but instead reminded herself “I can do this”, and nearly a decade later Coffee Corner remains one of Hingham’s gems.
When you walk in you are not bombarded by a thousand options and forced to spit your order out as fast as you can while the barista is already onto the next person. Instead, it’s like coming home. There are a few options of brewed coffee flavors, as well as options for creamers and sweeteners. Alicia and her small staff know the regulars by name, and they make your cup of Joe right in front of you, to your specifications. Coffee Corner offers a selection of bagels, muffins, donuts and breakfast sandwiches to pair with your coffee.
Next to the counter is a small half wall, and when people are generous it is covered with post-it’s that cover the cost of a coffee. It is all these things that make Coffee Corner so inviting.
2020 has not been without its struggles for Coffee Corner. Luckily, Alicia and staff have been able to remain open. Luckily there has only been one small change aside from wearing masks (as you’ll see when you go in, Coffee Corner is very clean and the staff, even prior to Covid-19, is always wiping down surfaces.) Coffee Corner previously had a couple of chairs available for customers to sit and enjoy their coffees, but due to Covid-19 and the need for sanitizing surfaces, the chairs are no longer available. However, there is no lack of charm, from the quote-of-the-day to the lack of Facebook advertisements in lieu of word-of-mouth-from-your-neighbor publicity. When asked where she would like her business to be in 6 months she relied “as it is”. There are no plans to launch a social media campaign, because by keeping her customer base growing via word-of-mouth it makes the atmosphere neighborly, comfortable, and personable.