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Couple building a coffee shop from scratch in ancient downtown Texarkana building

December 12, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

The husband and wife team of Don and Lisa Slayter have pursued a few business ventures over two-and-a-half decades in Texarkana and they are ready to turn the page on a new one.

The Slayters will transform a love for books and coffee into a West Broad Street business, situated in a vintage building right beside the event space and theater Silvermoon on Broad.

The Stained Page, as it will be called, will be a welcoming place for Texarkana to discover a used book and sit down with freshly brewed coffee. The owners also see it as a gathering spot for people and the fulfilment of a dream to open this sort of business downtown.

The name is significant because it depicts two big loves between them. Don's a big coffee drinker and loves books. Lisa doesn't drink much coffee, but she can brew it.

"We see the name as a way to mesh the two loves together," Don said. "The idea of a page from an old book being stained with a coffee drip or coffee ring."

So far, they've generated a lot of excitement about opening a coffee shop, he said. They saw another shop similar to this during a West Texas trip, which only added to their motivation to pursue this venture.

And like the image of an old, worn book, they have a building to renovate that dates back to the early days of the city.

Lisa says the building used to be a fitness center for the Texas-side police department. It's her understanding the block was built in 1885. "It's one of the older strips in downtown Texarkana," she said.

As to the reading we will find at the Stained Page, expect to see used books in paperback or hardback form. "All genres, fiction and nonfiction," Don said. He prefers the latter but they'll carry both. They've received donations and purchased books, too, as they've found both good deals and generous people.

"Of course, I have a fairly decent library already that I'm going to be using as a starting point for our inventory," Don said. That's a converted garage filled with stacks of books, his wife explained.

Lisa knows more about the coffee than he does. They've been looking at several different sources to supply it.

"We really would like to concentrate on selling coffee that is fair trade, ones that would help various causes, whether they happen to be social causes, Christian ministries or anything of that sort," Don said.

"Coffee with a purpose," as they described it. Good, gourmet coffee that supports local farmers where the coffee beans are grown, that's what they want. They hope to get a local source, too, because a local connection appeals to them.

"We've tried several different suppliers, and we've been having family and friends kind of taste test and see what they like the best," Lisa said. "We will probably wind up carrying more than one brand."

As to the vibe they aim to create in the shop, Lisa said, "Well, a very open, welcoming vibe. We have a son and three daughters, and our three daughters are all about creating this perfect vibe inside the coffee shop."

Think cozy, a place to sit and study or meet as a group.

"Not sure what the layout is going to look like. We're not sure when we're going to be able to open quite yet. We would have loved to have been open by the end of the year, but I really don't see that happening at this point," Lisa said. "That would be our perfect goal."

To that end, they've begun the interior demo work, tearing out walls and suspended ceilings and such. They're getting bids for certain sorts of work, such as electrical and plumbing. Much of those mechanical aspects will have to be replaced, from what they can tell, Don said.

"Thankfully the building in a structural sense is pretty sound. It's in good shape," he said. The roof may need resurfacing but apparently is not leaking, they said.

Running a commercial venture is not new to the Slayters, and they have a passion for pursuing a business, combined with a love for downtown.

"We've done businesses in the past, retail shops and such. Nothing in the food and beverage industry, but we've ran some small shops here in town in the past," Don said.

He said their passion will be the guiding force with The Stained Page. Though they're not Texarkana natives, they appreciate the character of downtown Texarkana. They grew as East Texans in Marshall.

(On the Net: Look for The Stained Page on Facebook and Instagram. They will have a website presence soon at thestainedpage.com.)

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