TUPELO • James and Linda Maxey were enjoying retirement, doing the things that retirees do like traveling.
But like so others before them, they got bored.
So they decided to open a coffee shop, Sippi Sippin,’ which opened nearly two weeks ago.
“Her brother has three shops in Florida, and we retired a couple of years ago and were living in Colorado,” James said. “Looking at retirement, we looked around to see where our money would go farther and we moved to Mississippi.”
James was born in New Albany and was raised in Tupelo and still had family in the area, so it was a return home for him.
He and Linda had been in Colorado for several years with James working with the company from which he retired.
“Since we retired we’ve basically done nothing,” he said with laugh.
But then last spring, Linda’s brother visited them in Tupelo and asked if they might be interested in opening their own coffee shop.
He invited them to Florida to visit his shops to get some idea of how they were run, and the Maxeys were hooked.
They returned and started the process of opening their coffee shop. They hired a builder and then started looking for a place. They originally had planned to build on North Gloster Street next to Woody’s, but MDOT would have required them to restrict street access to the building.
So they opted to find another location, and picked the corner of Lawndale and West Main streets. The address is 1243 W. Main St. in Tupelo.
Then, as they were getting their plans together, the Maxeys entered “The Pitch,” a small business competitor sponsored by the Community Development Foundation and WTVA. A “Shark Tank” of sorts, the program selects a winner, who’s given advice and some startup money.
“Linda found out about it and said it would be a good way to get our name out,” James said. “We didn’t think there was any way we’d win – we did it for the experience and the exposure, and we actually won it. It’s worked out well.”
The Maxeys don’t roast their own coffee but rely on High Point Coffee Roasters in New Albany, which provides coffee to several coffee shops across the state. High Point developed a special Sippi Sippin’ blend for them as well.
“We’ve gotten a lot of great response from people coming through,” James said. “We always have people taste the drink before they leave to see what they think, and it’s been positive.”
Sippi Sippin’ offers a variety of coffees, including espresso drinks and specialty drinks using Ghirardelli sauces and authentic Italian syrups.
The most popular drink is the Caramallow, which is caramel, toasted marshmallow and vanilla and can be served hot, iced or frozen.
Smoothies and snow cones also are available.
“We’re having a lot of fun with it so far,” Linda said. “People have been very receptive to it.”
She admits their retirement plans didn’t initially involve opening their own business. They thought traveling would be enough to keep them occupied.
“We just got bored and decided we needed to do something constructive and here we are,” she said.
But the couple knew that if they were going to offer a product or service, it had to stand out.
“I told Linda when we opened we were going to have good drinks, and we’ve experimented a lot – and thrown away a lot – to get it right,” James said. “But I think we have it down.”
Sippi Sippin’ is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“As we grow, we hope to hire a manager sometime next year,” Jame said. “Then we’d like to have staff and we step back a bit. And who knows – we might like to open another location somewhere if everything works out.”