A former car lot in Gas City is now a shop that sells something else that keeps people going.

The Pony Espresso, a coffee shop owned by Grant County native Corinne Rose, opened May 1 at 138 W. Main St.

“I really just wanted to provide a service to the community that was needed,” Rose said. “I can’t compete with Starbucks, but I feel like the people in Gas City needed a small coffee shop.”

Rose didn’t always want to own a coffee shop, she said.

While earning a bachelor of social work degree at Ball State University, Rose worked at Midwest Coffee Roasting Company in Marion, where she learned the ins and outs of coffee making.

“I couldn’t imagine life without coffee,” she said. “It gives me the extra motivation to get up in the morning.”

After graduating, she worked as a social worker for four years before having a son with special needs in 2017.

Rose said she spent weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit before returning home and deciding to devote her time to raising her child.

Rose eventually found enough time to work, but not enough time for a full-time job or social work.

“My husband looked at me and said, ‘Let’s just do it,’” Rose said.

The couple bought a horse trailer with the hopes of turning it into a traveling pop-up coffee stand for local events, but came across the old car lot and decided to lease it.

After months of renovating the space, Rose said she had planned to open April 1, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she pushed the opening date back a month.

Since opening, Rose said the store has been doing well and already has a few regulars.

“Every day there’s at least six girls that if I don’t see them, I need to go by and see if they’re OK,” Rose said. “I don’t have any fear of not being able to continue.”

The support from the community, specifically from fellow female business owners in the area, has greatly helped Rose, she said.

“It’s been great. It’s very empowering,” Rose said. “This community has the best support system. (Fellow business owners) share their journey. They share what to do, what you shouldn’t do, what to expect. The support is great. I learn something every day.”

Rose said she welcomes and desires feedback from the community.

“We would like to hear what you like, what you would want to see, what didn’t you like? We can’t grow and be successful if we don’t have that kind of community,” Rose said. “We want to be established and have set items, but we want it to be what other people want, not what we think people want.”

Rose said she plans to expand the shop this winter when Tacos No Mas moves out of the building and introduce Italian sodas and milkshakes, creating a place for students to come after school.

The Pony Espresso currently delivers to Gas City and Jonesboro, and Rose said she hopes to expand delivering services to Marion soon.

The hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

“I’m never going to be a millionaire in this job, but it’s very fulfilling providing this service to the community,” Rose said.

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