Aroma Joe’s has officially closed as of March 30. The coffee shop was a popular choice for Keene State College students and many are upset about the closing.
Store Owner Maryna Shuliakouskaya said there were many aspects that contributed to the store closing. Shuliakouskaya said a lack of parking and not having a drive-thru had a large impact on business. “Any owner feels horrible, but we have to look past it. Sometimes it’s easier to cut it off earlier,” she said.
Aroma Joe’s opened in Keene in July 2015. The shop offered a variety of options including hot or iced coffee, teas, lattes, mochas, baked goods and sweet treats such as cinnamon rolls and chocolate croissants. One of the most popular choices for KSC students was a “rush,” a flavored energy infusion. According to the menu, Aroma Joe’s signature energy infusions include Black Jack, Beach Bum and Rock-it-Pop, but customers could add any flavor they’d like.
Shuliakouskaya said college students made up approximately 70 percent of Aroma Joe’s sales. Because of this, she said that she thought of students when she was trying to figure out why business was not as good as expected.
“I think sometimes it’s just not convenient for them,” Shuliakouskaya said, “The time is not rational so they have to come in either before or after class.”
Many students who were regular customers said they are upset about the closing. KSC student Sebastien Mehegan said he bought from Aroma Joe’s about nine times per week. Mehegan said his biggest concern is the loss of the energy infusions.
“It bums me out,” Mehegan said. “I get a rush every day, sometimes two.” He said he is upset that he can no longer get his favorite drink because it is not sold anywhere else.
First-year Merry Souza said she went to Aroma Joe’s because it was conveniently close to campus.
“It’s super close and inexpensive,” Souza said. She said she bought from the coffee shop once or twice a week and is “extremely upset” that it has closed.
Sophomore Megan Stewart said she will miss the “breakfast on the go” she got from Aroma Joes.
“I’ll probably just stick to bean and bagel now for my breakfast and coffee needs,” she said.
Shuliakouskaya said she has looked at different locations to open up shop in her home state of Maine.
“It sounds easier to just move locations, but, in reality, it’s a lot of money,” she said. Shuliakouskaya said that, as an owner, a lot of effort is put into not only running the store, but helping to organize, hire and train staff. “We don’t just come over and make a cup of coffee, it’s a lot of work,” Shuliakouskaya said.
“When you open a store you hope to make profit, but unfortunately that just wasn’t the case here,” Shuliakouskaya said. She said it was hard to stay open when the store was not making enough money as expected. “We closed a lot later than we should have,” she said.
Shuliakouskaya said it was difficult not living in the same state as the store she owns.
“It’s hard to manage a store you’re not close to,” she said, “It would have been easier having someone else on site at the store to be involved in the community.”
Shuliakouskaya spoke very highly of her employees.
“We had the best crew; I wish I could take them all with me. They’re very smart people,” she said. Shuliakouskaya gave credit to her staff because they helped run the store and “had great customer service.”
Co-manager of Aroma Joe’s Kayla Winterson is a junior at KSC. She said her former manager received a different job offer, and so the manager position was then shared by three college students. Winterson had been working at the shop since they opened and said the closing “came as a shock.” According to Winterson, Aroma Joe’s employees were told about the closing with less than a month’s notice.
“Business is slow during breaks,” Winterson said. “I guess they forecasted a lack of business this summer and decided to shut it down.”
Shuliakouskaya said the closing was very emotional, and but she hopes for good business in Maine. “I wish we didn’t have to close,” she said, “But things have to be done.”
MacKenzie Clarke can be contacted at email@example.com