Lake Forest’s Martha Zeeman has dreamed for some time of opening a coffee shop like the favorite hangout we saw in the television series Friends. And what would make Martha’s place extra special would be its large selection of greeting cards visitors could browse through and buy while they were there.
“Have you ever noticed how places like car washes have the best cards?” asks Martha. “They know they have a captive audience that actually has time to read them.”
Martha has always been someone who sends cards to family and friends in the mail. But when the pandemic began to unfold last spring, she expanded her reach.
“I started going through our church directory and sending little postcards I had printed with my dog on them to give people a boost,” she says. “And this lead to cards being sent to me and phone call catch-ups–it was so nice.”
While the idea of opening her dream Cards & Coffee Shop was a definite no-go during Covid time, Martha knew she had to do something.
“I was talking with my husband Greg about having a shop and just knew I had to set aside any plans of opening a retail store with my little shingle outside right now,” she says. “But I knew there had to be a way of sharing my cards with people without all of that.”
So Martha began to put the word out that she’d be available to do pop-up shops and found herself sharing the cards she’d been curating with some enthusiastic and supportive shoppers.
“This is the perfect time for people to connect with others with cards,” she says. “I include a postage stamp with every one I sell so that people don’t forget to mail it. You don’t have to wait for a birthday or Valentine’s Day to send it, and you don’t have to write a novel. Just put it in the mail!”
Martha’s selection of cards comes from years of collecting and following her intuition on the ones to buy.
“Cards are some of my favorite things in the whole world and nothing makes me happier than to have someone going through what I have and laughing out loud, or telling me they have the perfect person to send it to. For me, my business–Cards & Coffee–isn’t about making money. It’s about connecting people.”
Martha’s collection of Valentine’s Day cards are some the best I’ve ever seen! Lucky for us, she’s holding a pop-up tomorrow, February 13, with friend, Kristin Weisberg of Toffee Traditions, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Message her on Instagram or send her a text at 847.909.8208 for the pop-up location.
On a side note, I so admire Martha for just making this business happen! Yes conditions aren’t perfect and “her shop” doesn’t look like she dreamed it would, but she’s putting herself out there and moving this idea of hers forward. I think there are lots of exciting things ahead for Cards & Coffee when the world feels a little more normal again. Go Martha!!