In most ways the Corner Perk Cafe in Bluffton, South Carolina, is like any good coffee shop – a welcoming place to relax with friends, drink good coffee, maybe read a newspaper. On the Yelp travel site, people leave enthusiastic comments:
“Best place in Bluffton for good quality in a friendly environment.”
“The coffee shop feels homey and eclectic…”
“The owner Josh [Cooke] is such a great guy, he really provides a good atmosphere.”
There are lots of great coffee shops, scattered around the world, but this one makes me think of the Karma Kitchen. Two years ago a customer ordered a coffee. Nothing unusual about that, but she paid with $100 bill, to pay for coffees for other people, until it was gone.
The word got around. Her kind gesture inspired other people to pay more coffees forward. One man dropped by with a hundred dollars without even buying a coffee for himself. Others added to the kitty, including the original donor (who is not wealthy), and the atmosphere in the cafe became even warmer than it already was.
The gifts are anonymous, but the sense of community they generate is social. The cafe’s Facebook site has the feel of friends talking with friends. Media picked up on it (see the WSAV video below), and customer Michael Aldea explained what it meant this way:
“You feel like if someone is going to take some time out of their day or money out of their pockets to buy you a free coffee, then it encourages you to do the same.”
One act of kindness mushrooms, and it all gives me hope.