What is Sightsee?
Sightsee is a retail shop + coffee bar that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Founded by Joel Sadler and Allyson Sutton, Sightsee aims to inspire a sense of adventure in everyday life. By blending the energy and community of a cafe with the joy of product discovery, Sightsee introduces you to new finds in a way that breaks traditional retail categorization. It's a space that sparks desire to explore, whether you're shopping the unique items we've found on our travels, or tasting a coffee from a specialty roaster on another coast.
After doing pop-ups almost every weekend for the past six months, we're ready to give this concept a more permanent home, nestled in the Elliotborough neighborhood of Charleston, SC.
Sightsee was born out of deep conviction about brick-and-mortar retail and a desire to help shape the future of our beloved city, Charleston, SC. We believe that small, unique storefronts play an essential role in the vibrancy and vitality of cities. Without local retail, our towns become urban malls with fancy food courts. (no offense, Panda Express.)
Between rising rents and online shopping, it is harder than ever for our much-needed local retail shops to survive. In order to make it, we believe that the brick-and-mortar experience must evolve beyond a physical version of what you can find online. Enter Sightsee: an engaging little space where you can grab a latte, meet a friend, and find goods from makers around the country.
What you'll find at Sightsee (AKA the deets on our retail brands + coffee)
We hope that you'll always be able to find something unique at Sightsee. We carry travel-inspired products from primarily smaller brands and independent makers -- things like handwoven picnic blankets from Oaxaca, letterpress cards from Los Angeles, maps designed here in Charleston, quirky and inspiring travel books, durable yet beautiful everyday carry bags, and other carefully-sourced items we love and use ourselves.
We also serve specialty coffee in a way that we hope makes craft coffee less about pretense and more about enjoyment. If you know about extraction and tasting notes - awesome! We can totally nerd out about that together. But if you don't - and, darn it, you just want an amazing cup of cold brew, that's awesome, too. For us, it's about hospitality, respect, great service and introducing you to some incredible coffees from small roasters around the country.
As one of our customers Kate describes it, "I like that you sell harder-to-find things from your travels that I can’t get in other boutiques in this region. Makes me feel LA cool and want to get on the road. It’s a space that sparks desire to explore and be/do more than just sitting with your average cup of coffee and laptop."
Well, shucks, Kate! That pretty much sums up our vision behind Sightsee.
Why a Kickstarter?
We want to make Sightsee the best possible experience for you, our customers. We've been self-funding this venture for the past seven months, but in order for us to transition from pop-ups to a brick-and-mortar space, we're going to need some help. Your pledges will make this possible!
Our business has two major components: a retail shop and a coffee bar. Creating both from the ground-up requires some significant up-front investments. To name a few, we'll need high-quality, commercial grade coffee equipment, refrigeration, an ice maker, sinks, plumbing and new electrical work, the construction of our coffee counter, permitting, shelving, seating, furnishings, and many more items that are needed to bring this space to life!
Don't just take our word for it!
Hear why a few of our supports think Sightsee is a project worth backing!
Rewards for everyone. We've carefully selected great rewards for all budgets. Whether you're looking for physical goods, exclusive deals, or more experiential rewards, we have great options for our local community and out-of-town friends, alike.
Oh man, would we be freakin' pumped to hit our stretch goals. This campaign is ALL OR NOTHING, which means if we don't achieve our goal, we don't get any funding. That said, if we *do* hit our goal (and we really hope we do), we have some exciting stretch goals -- aka new things we'd be able to implement with additional funds. Here's a quick look:
- $36,000: COLD BREW ON TAP: We want to serve you the freshest, tastiest cold brew coffee imaginable. If we exceed our initial goal, we'll be able to install a kegerator and tap system to always have this refreshing bev on tap!
- $40,000: FUND THE PATIO: If we reach this amount, we'll be able to purchase durable patio seating, lighting, and planters to create a cozy outdoor space for you to hang.
- $42,000: TECH UPGRADES: We'll be able to upgrade our point of sale system for a better checkout experience, as well as upgrade our security monitoring so we always know Coco and her cherished products are safe inside.
Where we are in the process
We’ve been doing pop-ups since October 2018, an experience that's enabled us to solidify our business model, refine the concept, and incorporate valuable feedback from customers, retail partners, and coffee experts.
We already have our lease agreement and city zoning in place. We also have preliminary design plans and are in contact with contractors to do the up-fit.
We’ve solidified a wholesale partnership with a local coffee roaster, and with their help, we're ready to source all of our coffee and espresso equipment.
Thanks to our pop-ups, we've got some awesome wholesale retail relationships and are ready to bring several new products into the lineup once we open!
Risks and challenges
As with any new business, there are a lot of "speed bumps" that could pop up. The interior build-out could take longer or require more money than planned. Permitting and inspections often take longer than expected because, paperwork. This is why we haven't set a specific opening date, but we've actually already started the process on a lot of this fun stuff!
Starting a business is always risky! Our pop-ups have been a great way to prove this concept and we know that with community support, we can make Sightsee a success.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)