When the employees of The Exchange Coffee Shop on Pierre Street went home on the evening of May 21, everything seemed normal. A few hours later, they got a group text. The shop had closed down. They were out of a job.
“I said, ‘see you tomorrow,’ and [the managers] said ‘yep,’” former Exchange employee Lisa Steiner said. “Then they sent a text out that night… ‘thanks for working your shift, we love you, but we had to close.'”
The Exchange Coffee Shop was connected to the Alley Exchange Mixed Vendor Market, a clothing and home decor shop that is still open for business. The Alley Exchange sells products made by local artisans and small businesses; they also carry larger clothing brands such as Levi’s and Patagonia. Both properties are owned by Midwest Holdings LLC, a local real estate and construction firm that is also involved in the development of the Riverwalk Landing project in Fort Pierre.
Leading up to last Tuesday’s layoffs, Steiner said, there had been rumblings of the shop experiencing some financial turmoil, but nothing that seemed so dire as to lay off the entire staff.
“We were all very taken aback,” Steiner said.
The Capital Journal approached Midwest Holdings co-owner Glennis Zarecky for details regarding the cause of the coffee shop’s closure. She confirmed that the shop had closed and the space was available for sale or lease, but declined to offer any more details by press time.
“We don’t have any additional information to share at this time... But, we will be announcing an opportunity for new ownership of the business soon,” she said. “We appreciate the great customers who love the coffee shop.”
Zarecky also said that closing the business was “tough,” but that “it’s a private matter. There’s information that I don’t want out there for public consumption.”
Besides Steiner, laid-off employees of the shop include the cook, Tritton Longcrow, and his wife, barista Brandi Goodhouse. The Capital Journal sent social media requests for comment to both, but neither responded. Steiner also said she has been unable to contact either of them since the layoff.
“I’m almost positive that the cook and his wife are still looking for work,” Steiner said. “They just had a baby two months back.”
Steiner said she is also looking for work. Despite the situation, she said she bears the shop owners no ill will.
“Like, I don’t hate them or anything,” Steiner said. “It’s just a shock.”