Good Coffee and Good Company: The Paper City Story

One of our favorite videos to make and replay over the years is the story of Paper City Coffee in Chillicothe. They are one of our favorite examples of what it looks like when an organization puts their heart out there and how effective that can be in drawing a crowd. 

Paper City Coffee describe their business as a “social good company.” Two teachers in Chillicothe who were passionate about the next generation decided to build a mentoring community in the guise of a quality coffee shop. 

A few years ago, we got to work with co-founders Megan Van Buskirk and Anna Purpero, and their friend, Trent Pekkala, on telling their story to their city. We loved making the video with them and use it often in our Story Workshops when we’re trying to make the case that organizations need to find ways to share the heart and the passion behind their work. This introduction to Paper City has its heart fully visible on the sleeve:

As much as we use the video, it seemed worthwhile to follow up with Paper City and find out whether it was effective for them.  We hardly ever get to hear the after-story of people sharing their story so we loved talking with Anna and talking about the process and aftermath of their time with Rebel. 

Anna had a lot to say about the making of their video: at the top of her list was her appreciation that our team was genuinely interested in hearing the whole story and making sure every part of it was told. She says they felt included and valued throughout the process.  Since they were setting out to do something unique, it was crucial for the community in Chillicothe to understand the purpose of Paper City right from their opening day. 

They used the video frequently in their first year of operation, primarily on social media. It was also featured at a fundraiser before they opened. Anna says it was “instrumental in articulating their message and getting people excited about Paper City.” They saw the video as a way to make sure the community felt included and invited to be a part of their whole mission. 

A few years into their operation, Paper City is thriving. In 2018, their coffee business raised over $20,000 to support their mentoring program. Every week, 30 students meet with adults in their coffee shop to talk about the kind of students and adults they want to be. They recently hosted a Maker Fair to support their mentoring project and provide an avenue for local artists to connect to the community. Even when they have faced adversity, like the time water damage forced them to shut down for a few days, they have felt supported and loved by the community because their story and their heart are known. 

If you’re in or around Chillicothe, we hope you’ll stop by (https://www.facebook.com/papercitycoffee/) or learn more about their Mentoring Project here. (https://www.facebook.com/papercitymentoringproject)