Win uptown business, stay grounded

Essay-writing contest to award White Rock coffee shop

The Johnston Road café

Would-be entrepreneurs are being sought to enter an essay-writing contest for the chance at winning a White Rock coffee shop.

The café at 1237 Johnston Rd. – which currently houses Small Ritual Coffee Society – is up for grabs in the contest, which launched last month and runs until Feb. 10.

More than $100,000 of equipment, furnishings and leasehold improvements will be gifted to the winner, as well as a month worth of on-site training from existing café crew.

According to society volunteer Ridé Harding, the society itself – which runs a number of programs aimed at community health and development – will continue its work, much of which takes place outside of the Semiahmoo Peninsula, in a more mobile fashion.

The goal is for society members to be able to focus on their programs on a project-by-project basis, Harding said, hopefully connecting with more people outside of White Rock, something that is difficult with the current café model.

“Running a café under a not-for-profit model with the values that we have set out as the things we care about and the things we want to uphold is not profit-generating,” she said.

Describing the café as a place of refuge for many, Harding said that regardless of what the new owners decide to do with the space, she hopes it maintains the unique sense of community the café has had since it opened in late 2009 with a grant acquired by the Church at Southpoint.

“Whatever they do with this space, we’d like it to still have that feeling of inclusiveness and welcoming,” Harding said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

Those wanting to take part in the contest are asked to write a 200-word essay on one of four topics – full contest details are posted on the Small Ritual Coffee Facebook page.

Contestants can enter up to four times, as long as the submission is a different essay each time, and is accompanied by a $100 entry fee.

Ten finalists will be announced on Valentine’s Day, and asked to write a 1,000-word essay; the winner is expected to be announced on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17, 2016). The new owner may be able to take over as early as May 1, 2016.

Questions about the contest are to be emailed to

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