Coffee has a way of shaking you out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s how smooth cold brew travels straight to your bloodstream, getting the brain revved up, or maybe it’s just a case of the hot bean jitters. Regardless of the ends, the means are a thing of beauty, especially for local creatives Allyson Sutton and Joel Sadler.
The couple is setting up the traveling pop-up shop they’re calling Sightsee at J. Stark (208 Coming St.) with retail offerings and a coffee bar every weekend this month, pouring small batch coffee for shoppers as they peruse J.Stark’s American-made bags along with a few unique crafts picked up on Sutton and Sadler’s travels.
“We’ve been researching and thinking about the concept for a while,” says Sutton. This led the freelance copywriter/editor with a background in marketing and journalism, and Sadler, the brains behind several tech start-ups and an engineer consultant, to Coming Street, where J. Stark owners Jess Nicoles and Erik Holmberg helped the two get their concept off the ground.
“We have a mutual love of travel, craft coffee, telling great stories, being a part of our community, and trying new things,” says Sutton. “Sightsee is a retail store and coffee bar concept that grew out of those combined interests.”
Sutton, Sadler, and their baby blue menu of pour over, cold brew, and drip coffee pop up at J.Stark every Fri.-Sun. starting at 10 a.m. The coffee, which Sutton laughs, “gives you something to do with your hands while you shop” is from downtown roasters Springbok and Charlotte-based roaster Hex, which the couple connected with via Instagram.
“This is coffee we’ve found when we’ve traveled that you might not come across otherwise,” says Sutton. Sightsee will also rotate in other coffees, sourcing their favorite beans from around the country.
Sutton and Sadler love to travel, and not the VSCO-filtered journeying that Instagram influencers hawk. The kind where you visit the nooks and crannies of a place, making connections with the people who inhabit them.
“Joel and I start every trip by researching cool local shops and cafes,” says Sutton. “When you start there, you can pretty much guarantee you’ll land in a vibrant and interesting neighborhood. We hope Sightsee becomes at least a small part of what makes someone’s experience (whether a resident or visitor) in Charleston special.”
In addition to carefully curated coffee, Sightsee will also keep a small retail selection of products from around the country, items you could never find on Amazon. For instance, “we’re carrying a woman-owned brand in LA, and she works with families in Mexico to make blankets,” says Sutton. Bringing these place-specific vestiges of travel to the Lowcountry is the end goal of Sightsee.
After their residency at J. Stark, Sutton and Sadler plan to pop up at both Second Sunday and at Meeting Green, a new-ish nursery on upper Meeting Street. Sutton says they’re “passively looking” at spaces for a brick and mortar, but want to build some momentum first. Their eventual storefront would focus more on the retail side of things, but would also serve as the jumping off point for “creating experiences all centered around travel.”
“We’re actually in the process of looking for a VW bus to do adult field trips and excursions,” says Sutton. “And maybe travel guides, product features, so whether that is a quarterly magazine or what that looks like, we’re not totally sure. We want to have full circle elements of travel.”
Keep up to date with where Sightsee, and their adorable mascot Coco, pop up next by following them on Instagram.