ELSEWorks Student Analysts Conduct Market Research for Coffee Prose

Coffee Prose, Jackson’s newest coffee shop and bookstore, is now open just across the street from Millsaps College on North West Street.

Students in the Millsaps Else School of Management’s ELSEWorks Entrepreneurship Program contributed years of research and planning to the initiative to open the shop, located at the corner of North West Street and Millsaps Avenue.

The journey began at the grass roots level in the Midtown community at the behest of residents, artists, and business owners. The Midtown Neighborhood Association, the Business Association of Midtown, and Midtown Partners, Inc. provided input and support.

“Our students’ research and interviews revealed that the building, which was constructed in the early 1950’s as the state headquarters for the Disciples of Christ church, has some interesting connections to the College,” said Dr. David Culpepper, professor of accounting and chair of ELSEWorks. “It included dorm type rooms on the second floor that housed Disciples of Christ students who attended Millsaps. Referred to then by Millsaps students as ‘the Monastery,’ the refurbished building, which includes lofts on the second floor, retains that name.’”

Current student analysts, all MBA students who contributed to the initiative to open the shop, include Jovaunda Smith of Jackson, Rachel Beck of New Orleans, Logan Mancuso of New Orleans, Shelby Marsh of Dallas, Ty Durham of Austin, Texas, Alex Bourland of Charleston, South Carolina, Sterling James of Canton, Jordan Coopwood of Cleveland, and Avinash Ananth of Birmingham, Alabama.

Faculty members of ELSEWorks include Dr. Penny Prenshaw, professor of marketing; Dr. Blakely Fox Fender, professor of economics; Dr. Ray Grubbs, professor of management, and Phil Hardwick, director of business analysts.

The current analysts and their predecessors, with oversight from Prenshaw, conducted various forms of market research related to both coffee and books, locally, regionally, and nationally. This research included menu development, drive-through feasibility, community outreach, and financial projections. In recognition of the lasting contributions of analysts through the years, the ownership structure provides for a portion of profits to be reinvested in the Midtown community, Culpepper said.

Audrey Bennett, a Millsaps senior from Carmel, Indiana, has planned and conducted the social media strategy for the shop.

Coffee Prose fuses three of life’s pleasures: coffee, books and community.

Inside the coffee shop at 1619 North West St., shelves filled with gently used books line the walls. Vintage furniture, including a pink settee, add a layer of charm to the industrial vibe. Specialty lattes pay homage to literature with names such as The Gatsby, Moby Dick, and Delta Wedding.

Spencer Ellswood, a Millsaps College senior from Austin, Texas, created from steel the Coffee Prose logo, and it is a handsome centerpiece of decor. Justin Ransburg, a Jackson artist, added whimsy to the walls by painting murals on them that show an oversized coffee cup, pages bursting from a book, and a variety of writing utensils. Stained glass panels by Andy Young of Pearl River Glass Studio, which is located in Midtown, hang in the shop.

Emily Pote, co-owner and operator of Coffee Prose, said the shop celebrates Made in Midtown goods from the Hatch business incubator. It sells pastries from Heavenly Sweetz, breakfast tacos from Feast Specialties, cold drip coffee from Mississippi Cold Drip and tea from Natural Saga along with drip coffee, specialty coffee drinks, and a variety of juices.

The shop also celebrates the written word with a large selection of used books. Books for sale vary from classics to coffee table art books. Prices range from $10 for a Modern Library copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden to $20 for an oversized book about artist John Singer Sargent that originally sold for $85.

“We want the books you buy here to be books you want to keep,” said Pote, a 2004 Mississippi College graduate who earned an MBA at the University of Mississippi. “When you see them on them on your shelves, we hope they bring you joy.”

In keeping with the community emphasis of the coffee shop, there is a meeting room that can seat 15 to 20 people. Details for use of the room are being worked out.

An emerging non-profit emphasizing literacy, education, news, and sustainability will be associated with Coffee Prose. Under the leadership of Dr. Michael Pickard, assistant professor of English at Millsaps, this initiative will include significant involvement by Millsaps students as well as community stakeholders.

Grace Bellnap, a Millsaps senior from Houston, Texas, and Kayleigh Aicklen, a Millsaps senior from Bay St. Louis, recently found Coffee Prose the perfect place to study.

“It’s convenient to campus,” Bellnap said, “and I like the coffee. I had the Nancy Drew specialty latte.”

The Rev. Anna Fleming-Jones of Jackson, a United Methodist minister whose congregations include Pearl United Methodist Church, Lodebar United Methodist Church and Holly Bush United Methodist Church, said she often works in coffee shops.

Coffee Prose is especially convenient, said Fleming-Jones, who is also an artist, because it is near her studio in the North Midtown Arts Center. “I’ve been waiting for it to open,” she said.

Coffee Prose is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. The shop has a drive-through to make it extra convenient. Find out more about Coffee Prose at www.coffeeprose.com.

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