This is Carolina: Retired teacher opens city’s first and only coffee shop

This Is Carolina: Groundout Coffee

MARION, SC (WMBF) - A historic two-story building has been renovated to be one of Marion’s newest businesses off Main Street.

It’s hard to miss going down Arch Street, and is part of what Marion residents hope is a revitalization of its downtown scene.

The Groundout Coffee Bar is a family-owned shop hoping to serve everyone their favorite cup of java from now on.

“I was really inspired by some of their buildings there and some of their coffee shops there,” Liz Herlong said of various coffee shops across South Carolina, specifically in Hartsville.

She explained they’ve been her inspiration to open Marion’s newest and only coffee shop off North Main Street. It’s in a building known for something other than coffee.

“As a kid we always referred to it as the chicken lady building,” Herlong’s friend and landlord, Donny Gerald, said of The Groundout Coffee Bar’s new digs. “What I mean by that is, she lived downstairs and chickens were all downstairs, and you’ll be riding your bicycles downtown, and chickens will be running all over Main Street. So a lot of the locals referred to it as the chicken lady building."

‘The chicken lady building’ is no longer. The Groundout’s shop is beautifully refurbished. It shows the original brick walls and floor, and is the perfect blend of southern chic and historic Marion.

Herlong said opening a coffee shop has been a dream of her’s for years, and her family and Gerald helped push her to make it happen. The timing was right, she said, after retiring from teaching for 28 years. Once Gerald renovated The Groundout’s future space, she said it became apparent it’d be the site for her new business venture.

“I like the idea of when you go into a coffee shop there’s always someone reading or researching or having Bible study, and all of those things just spoke to me,” Herlong said while sitting in a gingham-patterned chair, surrounded by a homemade wooden coffee bar.

The coffee bar’s style bring a homeliness feeling to getting a cup of coffee in that shop and making you want to stay a while. Herlong hopes that’s exactly what her customers will want to do.

“Hopefully when you come back you’ll see some bagels and some danishes and maybe a cake of the day,” Herlong told WMBF News. She said there will be no fancy cooking, but just good coffee and bakery bites. There’s also a room in the back of the coffee bar for quiet studying.

The Groundout name was inspired by her family’s love of softball and baseball, as well as many long family trips for club ball with her kids.

The Groundout had a soft opening Tuesday. It’s officially open for business from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Gerald also renovated the upstairs space as an upscale, short term loft rental. It can be found on AirBnB to rent. You can tour the stylish loft here.

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