SAINT JOHN – What is a coffee shop to do if its sandwich board is stolen early on a Monday morning? Take it to the Internet, find the perpetrator, hold a pop-up coffee shop outside his store, and broadcast it live on Facebook, of course.
It all started when Mike Duncan received a call from his manager at Rogue Coffee Shop in Uptown Saint John. The sandwich board was gone, the manager told him. Did Duncan know where it was?
Duncan didn’t know, so he pulled the security tape from a camera pointed at the entrance to the shop. He discovered footage of this man taking the sign early in the morning. Duncan took a screen capture and published it on Rogue’s Facebook page:
“This was unbelievable. This actually happened,” Duncan told Huddle in an interview. “So I [posted] this on Facebook and Instagram and the messages started rolling in almost immediately. There were lots of people who knew who he was and then we got a message that said, ‘your sandwich board is literally out on Bayside Drive.'”
Duncan and his wife Vanessa took a drive over to the building on the city’s East Side and saw the sandwich board through the window. The place was locked up and no one was there. Rather than call the police right away, Duncan says he decided to have some fun with what was going on.
“So I said to Vanessa, ‘This is so ridiculous. Let’s do a pop-up shop in front of this guy’s place and he can come explain himself and we’ll go from there once we’re able to speak with him. So we loaded up some coffee, got some cold brews, a couple of chairs and a table, and set up a little pop-up shop.”
Then they began to videotape the event, live on Facebook, as people began to show up for a coffee and support their efforts to #freethesign:
Soon after they set up the pop-up shop, they received a visit, but not from the owner.
“These two people showed up – not the person who took the board, not the one on camera – and opened up the door and brought the sign down to us.”
The inserts promoting Rogue promotional had been removed and the sign was now blank.
“We’re like, ‘What’s going on? Where’s the guy? He needs to come and show up.’ [They put me] on the phone with him and he had ditched the inserts. I said, ‘Well, you need to come to meet us here and publicly apologize on video and pay the money to replace [the insert].”
They gave him until six o’clock, but no apology or restitution for the sign was forthcoming. On the bright side, they did discover a new favourite restaurant.