Sara Skolaski knows how to turn a business dream into a business adventure. After 12 years of teaching, she realized she wanted a career with more flexibility. She’s always been passionate about coffee and people, so in October 2016 she took a leap and launched The Spot, a mobile coffee shop. “We’ve really been blessed—it’s been an amazing year,” she reflects.
Photo by Justin Price
Skolaski hustled to make her dream a reality. She came up with the idea on vacation and within a week, she had developed a budget and bought a 1973 Shasta camper. It needed quite a bit of work to fix up, but soon she and her teaching partner, Stephanie, were selling coffee before school. In November, they both left their teaching careers to focus on The Spot full time.
Success, for Skolaski, has definitely been a team effort. Her husband, Ryan, wakes up at 4am to get the camper ready for the day. She and her crew set up at regular locations by 8am and operate for four to six hours a day. Then there’s another three to four hours of making syrups, picking up supplies from their commissary kitchen, and handling general business operations.
Combining good coffee with good people can certainly bring a community together. The Spot’s little blue camper can be found at the Peoria RiverFront Market, PNC Winterfest and numerous community fundraisers. They partner with CxT Roasting Company for beans, sell locally-made Four30 Scones, and even work with special-needs students to teach them job skills. Skolaski utilized the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley University for business assistance, while a small group of local mobile retailers—including the owners of Brazen, Runaway Rack and No Roots Boots—collaborate and support each other whenever possible.
Skolaski encourages anyone interested in starting a food or retail truck to do their research and understand the time commitment involved. For her, all that hard work has paid off. Plans are underway to open a permanent coffee shop in Peoria, but she still intends to use the camper for special events. “We’re excited, but we’re taking things little by little and constantly reassessing what’s working and what our customer base wants from us.” It sounds like more coffee is in order! iBi
For more information, visit thespotcoffeentea.wixsite.com/home or find The Spot on Facebook.