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Renton coffee crawl brings needed jolt to struggling shops

A shop owner organized a coffee crawl in downtown Renton to help other businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

RENTON, Wash. — While many small businesses are already struggling, a group of coffee shops in downtown Renton are coming together to help each other survive pandemic restrictions and a major construction project.

"We've got the construction, which is rough. We've got this January, February time, we have the pandemic," said The Rose Gift House & Coffee owner Katie Newman. 

Business has been slow, she said, and made more difficult by parking restrictions. 

Between an ongoing construction project that will eventually transform the downtown area and a business slow down, it's hard to stay afloat. Newman said the coffee business usually comes to a slow drip at the beginning of the year.

"They do love their coffee, but you know, priorities. I think it's just one of the easier ones to get rid of in the beginning when you're reprioritizing in the year," said Newman. 

In order to help offset some of the challenges, Newman and her dad thought of a way to help other coffee shops survive the tough times.

"They're going to get their map, they'll get their coffee bucks, wristbands, and come here and go through Smokey Monkey Pizza," said Newman. 

A coffee crawl, this Saturday and Sunday, will bring business to six coffee shops. She said no more than two households will show up at reserved times.

"If you talk to the other shops, they're making it barely, we're all just kind of getting by," said Newman. 

But Newman said she's not surprised by the outpouring of support. 

"That is such a downtown Renton thing. We are all about lifting each other up," said Newman. 

Tickets for this weekend's crawl sold out in a matter of days, but Newman is already planning what's next. 

"Starting next week, after this is over, we plan coffee crawl two," said Newman.