This is the first in SCS’s MEET series. We plan to catch-up with the Niagara Region’s inspiring entrepreneurs who have big ideas and are making cool things happen.
Recently, I was lucky enough to chat with Sarah Jarvis about the upcoming opening of her underground speakeasy in downtown St Catharines called Trouble Coffee and Spirits.
Sarah is the owner of Craft Arts Market, a consignment store supporting the Niagara region’s highest quality artists and artisans. Craft has a beautifully curated selection of gifts, home decor, fashion and accessories. It is also home to Craft Espresso Bar where you can find the tastiest flat white espresso in St. Catharines.
SCS: How long have you lived in the Niagara Region?
SJ: I have lived in Niagara for 11 years
How would you describe St Catharines to someone who has never visited?
St Catharines to me is the perfect sized city. It’s small enough to have a close sense of community where you get to know everyone and don’t feel insignificant, but large enough that there is everything that a larger city has but without all the traffic.
The history is rich, the landscape is beautiful and region is a wealth of agriculture and wine.
When you are not running Craft Arts Market or getting ready to open Trouble Coffee and Spirits, what do you like to do in the Niagara Region?
When I have some spare time (HA, what’s that?!), I love to visit some of our most inspiring restaurants, go hiking in the Niagara Gorge, visit the wineries, hit up the beach at Windmill Point Park, go boxing at Fightfit, and do Yoga at Moksha.
What’s your favourite place to eat/drink?
My favourite places to eat are Rise Above for the best vegan eats, Piezza Pizzaria in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the best pizza and service, Amakara Sushi for the best sushi, Diner House 29 for best breakfast (Mirepoix is a tight 2nd), Hometown Ice Cream for, well, ice cream and treats, and The Merchant Ale House, The Office, and Bolete for drinks.
Where do you love to shop?
I try and support the local small businesses as much as I can. Unfortunately, we don’t have too much to choose from in regards to my current lifestyle choices. However, I do love to shop at Citrus for clothing. A close second (because it’s farther away) is White Elephant and O’s Clothes in Hamilton.
Other stops I regularly make include, the local Market Square, Mindbomb Records, the new and beautiful Garden City Essentials, The Peanut Mill, and Bamboo Natural Foods. Keepgood Co, and Naaber are also super cool spots.
What were you doing before you started Craft Arts Market?
I was working as a Manager of sorts at Rise Above Restaurant.
What was your inspiration for creating Craft Arts Market?
I had moved back to Toronto for a year and a half because I felt there was such lack of culture in St Catharines at the time. This was before downtown had the PAC, Meridian Centre, and Marilyn I Walker.
I felt I needed some inspiration and change. There were so many shops popping up like Craft in Toronto where you could buy local handmade things. I fell in love, and came back to St Catharines with the idea.
I knew so many makers who didn’t have anywhere to sell their wares and really wanted to support our local folks, so on a shoestring budget I opened Craft.
Was this your first experience owning a business?
Yes, it was my first experience.
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I have talked about owning a cafe since my teens. However, I wasn’t well equipped to do it back then. I had so many different jobs over the years, which I am thankful for every single one of them. They all taught me so much about work ethic, what I was good at, what I wasn’t good at.
I also learned that I didn’t enjoy working for others because I had so much creativity and drive that was usually smothered, and it made me dislike getting up in the morning.
Becoming an entrepreneur came at the right time in my life when I knew I was ready.
Tell us about Trouble Coffee and Spirits, and when can we get inside?
Trouble was an idea that was developed over a year ago. The coffee program at Craft had done so well, and people really wanted to be able to enjoy it sitting down in a porcelain cup – so we started working on it.
We found this magical space and I partnered with Ben Goerzen, who is a previous bar owner and lover of cocktails. We also added a food component, with menu development by local viral food blogger Laura Wright (Check out The First Mess). We will offer share plates and brunch on the weekends.
We don’t have a solid date for opening, but we are hoping for end of November, early December.
What was your inspiration for creating Trouble and where did you come up with the name?
The space we found really shouted “speakeasy”. It needed to be more than just a coffee shop. It will be an upscale, “loungy”, and relaxing experience.
The name Trouble came to be because we felt that having the best of coffee, cocktails, desserts, etc, could be troublesome. Haven’t you ever heard when indulging, “Well, that’s trouble?”
What has been the hardest thing on your road to entrepreneurship so far?
The hardest thing on the road to entrepreneurship has been the start up. I made many mistakes and wish I had known then what I know now.
How have you overcome it?
I learned to ask for help, I searched for resources and mentors to help me navigate the difficult times.
What has been the highlight of owning your own business so far?
I absolutely love connecting with our community. Being able to support local makers who provide St Catharines with incredible things and help move our downtown forward is what drives me everyday.
What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs in the Niagara region?
There is so much potential for business in our region. We are an open slate for all sorts of business ideas. If you’ve got an idea, there is lots of help available. Go visit the Enterprise Centre at 1 St Paul Street, St Catharines, and they will assist you with making your dream a reality.
Do you have anything else in the pipeline that St Catharines folk should know about?
Haha, I do consider myself a serial entrepreneur with a plethora of ideas. Once Trouble is open, we shall see what is next!
Location Trouble Coffee and Spirits: 160 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R 3M2
Do you know an inspiring entrepreneur in the Niagara Region who is making cool things happen? We would love to know! Contact us