Shotzy’s Coffee has dialed up every precaution in order to keep its drive-thru open during the COVID quarantine. But from Shotzy’s perch beside a normally hopping North Sullivan Road, the view has been decidedly different.
No East Valley High School students zipping through a few minutes before the first bell. No weekend soccer families fueling up for a crisp day at Plantes Ferry. Even the ever-bustling Spokane Industrial Park has been eerily still.
In a business where you can tell the time by the arrival of regulars, the inconsistency has been discombobulating.
“We know their names, what they drink and what time of the morning they are coming through,” Shotzy’s owner Kim Cline said of the customers. “We get really close to them. We become part of their routine.”
Customers have felt the difference as well. After a few weeks’ disappearance, a regular pulled up to the window recently and began sobbing. The alarmed baristas asked if she was OK.
“She said, ‘This is my routine, and I haven’t been able to do it for weeks. I’ve missed you guys,’” Cline said. “It really touches us. There is definitely a relationship that is built.”
For Kim, the relational nature of the business is what drew her in the first place. A 1995 graduate of University High School, she got her first coffee job in 1996 at a Spokane Valley drive-thru called Buzzies.
“Once you get in there and work as a barista, it’s just so much fun talking to people, getting to know people and their families and looking forward to seeing them the next day,” Kim said.
She spent a couple of years managing the Thomas Hammer outpost at the Northtown Mall before sensing a “push toward something more.” Along with husband, Jason, and a couple of relatives, she opened the original Shotzy’s Coffee on South Pines Road in 2001. Alongside her cousin, Kim worked seven days a week for the first six months to help establish the culture and clientele of the shop.
“It was grueling,” she said. “But we put in the work, and as long as you put in the work and work hard and believe in what you do, good comes out of what you put into it.”
A few years into the business, Jason and Kim bought out their partners and opened the second location at 3413 N. Sullivan Road. When Kim decided to go back to school to become a nurse in 2014, the Clines sold the Pines location (which retained the Shotzy’s name) and focused on the Sullivan business. In nearly 25 years in the local coffee industry, Kim has seen both the market for coffee and the competition from other stands grow by leaps and bounds.
“There’s definitely more competition today, but if you keep to your core motto of serving quality coffee with quality service, everything will come around,” she said. “We never skimp on quality for cost.”
Indeed, Kim laughed about how the “bigger-hitter” chain coffee stores offer not only inspiration but leave a happy wake with their marketing efforts.
“For example, we serve pumpkin all year long, but the second Starbucks says pumpkin’s here, our pumpkin sales go through the roof,” she said.
As she doesn’t work many shifts at the window these days, she credits a base of 5-7 mostly full-time employees with Shotzy’s continued success.
“I have amazing women who work for me,” Kim said. “I’m very blessed with a good group of girls that I can trust.”
In German, the word “schatzi” is a term of endearment meaning “treasure” or “sweetheart.” She has had customers ask her whether such a beautiful correlation exists in the name of her coffee shop.
Nope. Kim jokes she wishes that it was that glamorous, but in truth the early partners flipped through the yellow pages for inspiration.
“We started looking through the phone book to see what jumped out,” she recalled. “There was a bar in Coeur d’Alene called Shotzy’s, and that’s what we chose.”
With an emphasis on consistency and quality, Shotzy’s has partnered with DOMA Coffee Roasting Company in Post Falls for years.
Shotzy’s has also developed a loyal following of its in-house granita recipe — “We have it in a special machine that makes it nice and thick and yummy,” Kim said — and it’s a featured ingredient in the popular “Six-Shooter,” which also features caramel and soft-serve ice cream.
Of course, Shotzy’s offers a full lineup of specialty drinks, including cold brew options like nitro and kombucha, and energy drinks like Red Bull and Red Lotus.
Kim also gave a nod to longtime local suppliers like Coffee Warehouse and Terry’s Dairy for providing quality products that keep the Shotzy’s customer experience first-rate.
THE TIME WHEN …
Several years ago, Kim was at a community business event when she met Mary Anne Ruddis, who was then executive director of the American Childhood Cancer Organization of the Inland Northwest (ACCOIN).
Mary Anne’s passion and the mission of ACCOIN struck a chord with the future nurse, and Kim decided to do a “Coffee Day” to support local families dealing with childhood cancer. Instead of making it exclusive to Shotzy’s, Kim spread the idea to fellow coffee shops, many of which have since put their own twists on supporting ACCOIN.
At Shotzy’s, the support has grown to include a holiday tradition called Beans of Sharing, where customers pick up a tag at the shop featuring a gift for a local family whose child is fighting cancer during the Christmas season. When the customer returns with the gift, they are rewarded with a free drink, and Shotzy’s is able to brighten a local Christmas. Additionally, Shotzy’s was one of several local shops to embrace Hugs for Jade, raising funds earlier this year for a local family whose 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
One final focal point of Shotzy’s love is the East Valley School District community. The shop offers discounts for East Valley students and employees and looks for ways to serve the community, such as showing up to the annual Senior All-Nighter to pour Red Bull sodas — when the event isn’t cancelled by COVID, that is.
“This year we can’t so we’re super bummed, but we went ahead and printed cards for them to come into the shop and get their free soda,” Kim said.
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