The Spot - Success Story Spotlight

Mobile Coffee Shop Finds Its Spot in Central Illinois

By Kelcie Eminian, Journalism Intern, Illinois Small Business Development Center, Bradley University

Sara Skolaski’s three passions include faith, people, and coffee. After holding a twelve-year teaching position, she decided to change career paths and follow her passions to open The Spot, a mobile coffee shop.

The Spot had its first event in October of 2016, and has continued to travel Peoria and Tazewell counties, serving customers in various locations. With the support of a fellow teacher and good friend Stephanie, Skolaski has gained two employees since the start of her venture.  “We all share some responsibility, it’s a great team,” she says.

Skolaski says her main motivation to start her own business revolved around her passion for people, and her ability to engage in a diverse customer base. She was able to grow her venture by cold calling local businesses, proposing their lots as possible locations for visits by The Spot.  “We were blessed enough to have people who believed in us and allowed us to grow...asked us to stay,” she says.

She credits The Spot’s success to a variety of supporters, including local-area businesses as well as her customers. She treats them like family, and even has some who follow The Spot to various locations every week.

Skolaski says this is where the greatest gain of the business comes into play. She enjoys seeing people pay it forward, and thrives on the ability to make her own schedule, travel, and meet new people.

Her greatest challenge is simple.  “There’s just not enough time in the day,” she says.

The Spot - Trailor with Sara Pic

Initially, Skolaski’s main hesitation in deciding to start her own business was leaving her own career and making the jump to something new.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Bradley University helped her make this jump. Skolaski says the SBDC helped her with multiple aspects of business start up, including the creation of plans, pricing points, tax documents, and permits.

The greatest benefit the Center provided her with, however, was the pool of resources and networking opportunities she was able to connect with locally.

The Spot was scheduled to secure its own permanent location in Elmwood (30 minutes west of Peoria). However, the building was coded for mercantile rather than restaurant use, so plans fell through. The leasing owners did not want structural changes to the building to occur, which would have been necessary in this case.

Despite not having its permanent place, The Spot continues to travel, and is actively engaged in the community. Sara participates in multiple fundraising events, working with local schools to donate portions of sales. She also works with special needs students to provide them with career-related skills necessary for the workforce.

Sara and The Spot can be found throughout the week at various locations in Central Illinois. Its schedule can be found on Facebook by searching “@TheSpotCoffeeIL.”