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'Our customers are so fabulous' | Kannapolis coffee shop and bookstore owner reflects on 5 years of business

The shop is located in an old mill house roughly a century old in downtown Kannapolis.

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — New and used books of every size and variety line the shelves in Editions Coffee and Bookstore in Kannapolis. The old mill house has the same layout as it did nearly a century ago, and creaky wooden floors serve as a soundtrack as you look for the perfect read. 

From a mill house to a bookstore 

Editions, a combination coffee shop and bookstore in downtown Kannapolis on South Main Street, celebrated five years of business in August. The shop's owner Dawn Evans said the anniversary was surreal. 

"We've had our ups and our downs, and there's times where we've had to reimagine some different things, but for the most part, it's been a wonderful experience and I can't wait to do our 10-year anniversary," Evans said. 

Evans and her husband moved to Kannapolis in 2006. A decade later, as downtown Kannapolis was just about to go through a revival, they decided to buy a used bookstore: The Book Trader. 

The future of the downtown was unclear, but Evans said she saw potential.

"I just fell in love with the old house," she said. "It has a lot of character." 

While it was an overwhelming undertaking at first, Evans said slowly but surely they filled the shelves and the shop came together. Coffee seemed like a natural pair to accompany the books.

"As far as putting the books and the coffee together, that's like two of my favorite things. So that was a no-brainer," Evans said.

The space has always been changing and growing with the community, and Evans said she wanted to make sure it felt open for artists to showcase their work. Art from local artists hangs on the walls and candles and crafts from other local creatives are for sale on shelves. 

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Editions has a number of loyal long-time customers that have seen the changes in action.

"I've been coming here since right before they opened -- about four, four-and-a-half years now," customer Kerrie Cox said. "I even sold some of my crafts here when they first opened and they've added on. It's really become family. It's a hotspot in Kannapolis."

Pandemic pivot

Then in 2020, when they had started working on a drive-thru addition to the shop, the pandemic hit. Evans said they opened the drive-thru on a Wednesday, and that same Friday everything closed. 

Evans said despite the challenges, their customers rallied around the business. 

"Our customers are so fabulous," Evans recalled. "They came through the drive-thru and they ordered coffee and they ordered books through the drive-thru and artwork to the drive-thru. I mean, it makes me want to cry, just thinking about it." 

Evans said Editions was able to apply for a PPP loan and used it to re-hire every employee they had to let go at the beginning of the pandemic. 

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Once the building was able to reopen beyond the drive-thru, customers were eager to return. 

"For my wife and I, the people that work here have basically become sort of like extended family to us," customer Jonathan Cox said. "And it's that kind of feeling that this place gives off that really helped -- really helped it survive and thrive even through the pandemic."

Looking ahead

The shop remains committed to being a community gathering place, and has a lengthy list of upcoming events for the fall season -- including Scooby Doo Storytime and Stranger Things Trivia events on Oct. 1. Evans said the bookstore is even known for having a ghost that likes to make books fly off the shelves from time to time. 

Reflecting on five years, Evans said the best part of the business is simple: the customers. 

"Each one of the customers is like a different story on the shelf," Evans said.

With the challenges and growth the bookstore has seen over the past few years, Evans is turning the page and setting her sights on celebrating a decade of books and coffee with good company. 

Contact Emma Korynta at ekorynta@wcnc.com and follow her on Twitter. 

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