I’m the type who turns buying apples into an arduous process. I’ll skeptically compare the fifty-cent difference between apples, assuming the proper scrutiny stance: arms folded, a slight lean to the torso, and eyes narrowed. 

Once I’ve established the type and price of the apples I want to purchase, I’ll thoroughly inspect each item. The few Chosen Ones that make it into my shopping cart will be beauties among their peers, and I’ll walk away with a self-indulgent nod, applauding my eye for a bargain. 

Then I’ll probably erase whatever I had “saved” by buying a cup of coffee for five bucks.

I can’t explain it—it’s just how I am. I’ll spend my money willy-nilly on coffee because I’m passionate about it and value a tasty cup. But I’m less inclined to buy just any apple (or produce).

My buying habits are partly because of my value set, and it’s easy to see what I prioritize. So when the opportunity arose for me to invest in a coffee shop, it was a no-brainer for three reasons:

  1. Pride in contributing to a local shop
  2. Having another cool shop to visit and get drinks from
  3. Nifty swag 🤙

The shop I’m talking about is called “SightSee.” The owners, Joel and Alyson, ran a coffee stand pop-up for a long time in Charleston. When I stopped by their stand, I was blown away by both the coffee and their friendly personalities.

You can imagine my excitement when, months later, I was scrolling Instagram, and I came across an announcement by SightSee: “Oh boy, have we got some big news: We have officially signed a lease on this sweet storefront!”

Included was a picture of an old white cottage with an adorable front door and an exciting caption describing the vision for SightSee. It was the evolution of Joel and Alyson’s brainchild pop-up into a brick and mortar retail + coffee shop. I was hooked by the idea and knew I wanted to be part of it.

There was no deliberating over pricing or quality, no belaboring comparisons or scratching my head frustratedly as with apple-buying. Instead, I had an instant desire to contribute.

There was a call to action at the bottom of their post along the lines of: “We’re going to need your help, though, so please support our campaign on Kickstarter (link in bio)!” That was my window of opportunity.

At the time my wife and I had just moved to Toledo, OH and couldn’t invest heavily, but what we could afford was one of the tiers, around $100. Neither of us are accredited investors, we’re just two people with a passion for coffee and local communities.

With the $100 tier I received some great merch, free drinks, and an exclusive lifetime “Club Member” card which gets me a discount on their retail items. Awesome, right? But the real value for me was the knowledge I had helped get their shop going, and part of me felt like I had a stake or ownership in it (even if I didn’t really). 

Little did I know that two years later I would be working for a Reg CF company where investors can, in fact, have real ownership in local businesses. Or as we say around Vicinity, find the place where Financial Capital meets Social Capital. 

The reason I “invested” in SightSee, was because I aligned with their WHY (which was listed on their campaign page), loved their marketing, and could see their vision for the brick and mortar building. 

Helping get SightSee going was as far as I could go with them, and while the payoff was worth it in my mind, my involvement beyond buying cups of coffee from them dried up. Though I love Sightsee and what they’re doing, I don’t have any ownership or personal financial interest in their long-term success (though, of course, as a friend and customer I’m rooting for them and visiting frequently). I still get to enjoy their coffee and camaraderie, but that’s different from having a stake in their mission. 

The beauty of investment crowdfunding, (enter Vicinity Capital), is that investors can have an ongoing stake in local companies. They can take real ownership in the vision and success of local businesses through the equity, loan or revenue share campaigns they buy into.

Supporting local used to mean just buying a cup of coffee. We’re changing that. Learn more: https://vicinitycapital.com/about/