Missouri coffee company relocating headquarters, roastery to downtown Bentonville

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 2,119 views 

A Missouri-based gourmet coffee business is in the process of relocating its headquarters and roastery to downtown Bentonville.

Heroes Coffee Co. owners Tim and Amy Ferguson are repurposing a former gas station building at the corner of 8th and A streets, just a few blocks east of the Wal-Mart Stores Home Office.

Heroes Coffee supplies coffee from around the world and coffee-related products on a wholesale basis to several customers, and also serves retail customers. It supplies its four other licensed locations in Missouri and another in Pittsburg, Kan. Those stores won’t be affected by the relocation, Amy Ferguson said.

Ferguson told the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal on Tuesday (Aug. 8) the roastery should be operational in Bentonville in about a week, and the café side should be open for retail customers before the end of August.

According to county property records, the former EZ Mart location at 124 S.W. 8th St. in Bentonville was purchased in March by Rich and Catherine Grubbs for $300,000.

Rich Grubbs is a commercial real estate developer who is leasing the building to the Fergusons.

Grubbs said he originally planned to raze the 2,000-square-foot building and redevelop the site, but decided the location wasn’t ripe for new construction because of a looming major road project. He pivoted to a renovate-and-lease plan for the single-story building.

The Eighth Street Improvement Project will widen the road from two to four lanes from Moberly Lane westward to Southwest I Street, a stretch of about 2 miles that will pass in front of the Heroes Coffee location. The project is expected to begin in earnest in the spring of 2018 and last several years.

Ferguson expects the Bentonville store to have about six employees. She said the corner location and proximity to downtown seem like “the perfect spot,” but the 8th Street widening and its effect on the retail business is a minor concern.

“We’re not sure what to expect,” she said. “Even if the café suffers, though, the wholesale business is built in and should be fine.”

Ferguson said specific store hours for the café are still being determined.

The Fergusons moved to Bentonville from Springfield four years ago. They helped start Heroes Coffee — then known as Oaxacafe Coffee Co. — in 2003. They have been the owners for the past eight years and oversaw the business remotely. Tim Ferguson works full time for J.B. Hunt Transport Services in Lowell. Amy Ferguson runs the coffee company’s day-to-day operations.

Since acquiring the business and renaming it in 2009, the Fergusons have used the company as a way to support organizations they believe are doing a great job of helping others — their heroes.

“Our tagline is ‘Wake Up. Do Good. Repeat.’” Ferguson said. “And that’s pretty much what we’re about. Most of our cafés have heroes they support. Not specifically financially, but by partnering for events, raising awareness. We’re a support system for whatever an organization might need.”

Heroes Coffee works with brokers in the U.S. to import beans from all over the world.

The Bentonville location will include a café as well as a retail space to sell a variety of products including t-shirts, mugs and other products.

Ferguson said the café space will be much larger than was available in Springfield, and she is excited about growing the retail side of the business.

“We will still be able to supply wholesale coffee to offices, restaurants, independent coffee shops or other customers, but our focus at the Bentonville store will be growing the retail side,” she said.

She hopes another selling point for Heroes Coffee in the market will be in-house barista training. She has trained with the Specialty Coffee Association in Seattle, and in addition to the specialized training, Heroes Coffee offers recipe development and other services for new café owners.

Ferguson also said plans are underway to start franchising Heroes Coffee. She and her husband are partnering with a company in Chicago, and the two firms will franchise the business together.

“We will still own 100% of Heroes Coffee, but we’ve decided to start a new venture to franchise,” Ferguson said. “And just like we do with our existing licensed locations, we will be supplying all these [franchised] locations with coffee and product and equipment all from the Bentonville headquarters.”