WALLBURG — It’s not the ending Debi and Ron Palmer had envisioned for their coffee shop and store in Davidson County, but they have accepted its fate.
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The owners of Wallburg Emporium & Coffee Shop received notice last week their month-to-month rental agreement will not be renewed at 8363 N. N.C. Highway 109 and they had until the end of the month to move out. The building that houses their business and two others was purchased and the new owner has other plans for the space.
“I want to thank the community for supporting us and loving us,” said Debi Palmer as she sat in an empty back room that used to be filled with one of 22 vendors who sold their homemade crafts, antiques, jewelry, food products and more. “I’m going to miss the customers. We were not expecting this. It came out of nowhere.”
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Amanda Dolan has been a regular customer since the Palmers opened their store. She comes in about three times a week for an Aloha Latte and used to come in each of the six days the coffee shop was open.
“I feel very upset,” Dolan said of learning Wallburg Emporium & Coffee Shop was closing on Aug. 28. “This is not just a coffee shop. It’s part of our community. I’ve met people here. It has a family environment and it’s welcoming. I feel like I am losing a part of my community.”
The Palmers are natives of Washington state, just outside of Seattle. They grew up in the coffee culture and often dreamed of opening their own shop. They even attended barista school together. However, with young children at the time and living in a market saturated with coffee shops, they thought it was too much of financial risk.
In 2001, they moved to Wallburg and helped open a coffee shop at their former church in Winston-Salem. As their friendship circle grew, they met the former owner of the three-suite building in Wallburg, where they would eventually open their coffee shop. At the time, the owner had a thrift store in Suite A, where Wallburg Emporium & Coffee Shop was located. Ron Palmer talked with the former thrift store owner and they brought in a commercial coffee machine.
“We bought him out and moved in in 2014,” Debi Palmer said. “I wanted to make this more of a vendor boutique store and a coffee shop, so we did. I had it all planned out.”
The couple worked with Fortuna Enterprises in Greensboro to develop their own roast of coffee. In addition, Debi, who loves to craft and refinish furniture with new paint and designs, began offering classes to the community to learn the skill and other classes such as tie-dying shirts, jewelry making and more. She sold her repurposed furniture under Rethunk Junk in a spot in her store, along with Iron Orchid Designs.
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“We never cut a check for ourselves from this store,” she said. “This was our calling. It was a place for the community to gather. During COVID-19, people would come here to set up to work. This is what we feel God asked us to do. If you needed prayer, we prayed for you.
Every year at Christmas, the Palmers hosted a large open house with food as a way to say thank you for the support.
Prior to learning they would lose the space for their store, the Palmers had planned to sell their home and make a trip back to Seattle to help Debi’s mother who has been diagnosed with cancer. The trip has been postponed so they can clear out everything in what she calls a “fire sale,” before Aug. 28. Afterward, they plan to spend about a month in Seattle evaluating their next move. They will purchase a new home in the community, but they are not sure about reopening Wallburg Emporium & Coffee Shop.
In fact, they have sold their coffee equipment and bean roasting recipe to Jessica and Jordan Kiser, who own Kiser Country Merchantile in Welcome. The couple used to be vendors at Wallburg Emporium & Coffee Shop, selling their homemade home decor signs.
“When we get back from Seattle, I will be there (Kiser Country Merchantile),” she said. “Jessica has made a space for me to sell Retunk Junk and IOD. …I love Wallburg and this community. They embraced us like I never expected. Ron and I will spend some time in Seattle to rest and reflect about what God wants us to do next.”
Jill Doss-Raines is The Dispatch trending topics and personality profiles senior reporter and is always looking for tips about businesses and entertainment events, secret and new menu items, and interesting people in Davidson County. Contact me at email@example.com and subscribe to us at the-dispatch.com.