The Happy Badger opens caféWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
From the winged cows dangling from the ceiling to the colorful knitted gloves lining the floors, Bowling Green’s Happy Badger at 311 N. Main St. is bursting with more treats than ever before.
Owners Donna and Alan Cohen recently unveiled their long-awaited café within the three-year-old fair-trade general store.
The café, which offers locally made baked goods and fair trade drinks, allows the pair to host more music events — a strong element of the couple’s history after raising five children with musical backgrounds.
“We’re really influenced by the local music scene,” Alan said.
The café will evolve slowly, but that the pair hopes to include sandwiches and soups on the menu.
“It’s going at a nice, steady pace, one step at a time,” Donna said. “It feels like it’s all falling into place; it feels like it’s unfolding.”
The “evolution” of the Happy Badger has allowed the couple to expand their merchandise availability as well. Donna said she buys clothing and goods from 10 different fair-trade companies and has increased her collection by the thousands. Products include handmade organic soaps from a local vendor, embroidered coats, dresses, shirts and pants made out of natural fabric, jewelry and artwork.
But one of the most popular items is $5 knitted gloves, crafted by Afghani women refugees.
“It’s something we believe in. It’s just nice to work in something that means something,” Alan said. “No matter what, fair trade is important to us.”
The mission of the store grew out of years of hitch-hiking across the West and meeting a lot of interesting people during the 1970s, Alan said.
After Alan got a degree in communications at Marietta College and ran a magazine in Washington, D.C., he started to travel.
The two met at a convention for humanity and explored the country, venturing through Washington, Oregon, Arizona and more and making pit stops to experience cultural phenomena, such as a Native American ceremony.
The name Happy Badger was also born during their travels, when a “medicine man” led a gathering around a fire and waved a feather at Alan, naming him the “Happy Badger.”
After all the hitch-hiking, the two landed in Toledo in 1980.
“We came to Toledo with 5 bucks in our pockets,” Alan said.
He worked as an advertiser and she raised their five children before they opened a music venue in Toledo under the name “Happy Badger” on Reynolds Road in 2004. But, rent crept too high and the place went bankrupt.
The two opened The Happy Badger in Bowling Green in 2006 with a friend’s financial help and now the store is growing, Alan said.
The bottom line is spontaneity.
“We try to relate with the college kids and we’re trying to convey to people that you can be spontaneous,” Alan said. “Spontaneity really is a basic fundamental of life.”
For more information, visit www.happybadger.com.
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