Wallingford cafe launches ‘pay it forward’ scheme

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A COFFEE store in Wallingford has launched a ‘pay it forward’ scheme allowing people to buy a drink for someone else in need.

Jim Beans, in St Martin’s Street, opened seven months ago but already has a notice board full of cards that people can use to claim free coffee.

Shop co-founder James Harris, who lives in the city centre, said the scheme was started by a customer who had filled in their loyalty card and wanted to donate it.

The 32-year-old, better known as Jim, said: “We offer a loyalty card scheme and one day a customer asked me, ‘I don’t want free coffee, can you give it to someone else?’ So we decided to put it on our community board.

“Eventually other people noticed and started putting their cards there as well and soon people started offering to buy people coffee as well and we were adding that to the board.

“It was really born out of local generosity and now we have so many there that we need people to start using them.”

The store has only been open for seven months but the notice board is already full of free coffees donated by customers. Photo credit: Ed Nix

Mr Harris, who runs the store with co-founder Will Pattison, said the cards are usually claimed by people on behalf of other people.

He said: “People will come and get coffee for a homeless person. The locals here really care about each other.

“The other day a friend of mine came to get a free coffee for a volunteer who is going to Ukraine to donate supplies – it’s for anyone in need.”

The business partners, who both grew up in Wallingford, decided to open the shop after working in the hospitality industry for 10 to 15 years.

It first opened as a take-out service due to the coronavirus pandemic as the couple feared another lockdown might occur.

Mr Harris said: ‘We decided for years and years to open a cafe, but Will had to walk away briefly and I did the opening alone, but it’s as much his as mine .

“We were both doing well in the hospitality business and we decided why not do it for ourselves? We thought about it for four to five years and the lockdowns gave us time to do it.

“We thought about having a mobile unit originally so we could go to events, but we decided to open a shop instead.

“We were on a roll at the start as we thought another lockdown would happen and that meant we could keep going.”

He joked, “Now we always have take-out regulars that I see every day who never sit down.”

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