Coffee meets art at Wanderer’s Rest
By Liz Moomey
CHINA GROVE — Sam Kearns loves art, being a barista and teaching people.
After being on the road selling art as The Wandering Pygmy, she has set up shop in China Grove as the Wanderer’s Rest, a cafe and art gallery that offers classes.
“We’re a coffee shop by day and an art studio by night,” Kearns said. “As far as the art studio goes, you can bring in drinks and stuff like that or just come in an have a happy fun time. We offer more party classes, but we also offer what are called our Learn It classes, which are instead of saying at our party classes, ‘Oh hey we’re going to accomplish this task in two hours,’ then with our Learn It classes we go into more detail about this is how you do this and this is what you need to do. It sets you up to do the skills at your house.”
The classes range from pet portraits to dreamcatchers.
“I try to offer a variety of classes that is more than just the typical painting and drinking thing,” Kearns said. “We’ve made dreamcatchers. We’re making these gnomes. We’ve done a variety of different things. We’ve done fabric pumpkins for Halloween.”
Since opening in October, Kearns said she has developed regulars, whether it’s for a cup of coffee or the classes.
“A lot of people either think I’m coffee or art and getting them to understand ‘No we’re both’ has been an interesting process, but I’ve developed regulars,” Kearns said. “I have people who come in here every morning. I have people who have signed up for just about every class I’ve had. We’ve been pretty warmly received by the community.”
One regular is Becky Smith, who travels from Lexington. She said the classes have allowed her to be creative.
“It’s nice to see people wanting to learn about art and not just a ‘we’re going to have fun and have a party,’ ” Kearns said. “It’s nice to see people interested in it in another way.”
Kearns said she likes teaching people art and seeing them improve their skills.
“I truly enjoy teaching people how to do stuff,” she said. “I like people going from, ‘I can’t do anything’ to ‘look what I did.’ ”
Her fiancé, Heather Key, helps her stay organized, which allows Kearns to concentrate on developing the classes and making coffee.
“If I had my way, I would make coffee and make art,” she said.
The name Wanderer’s Rest is a token to when she was selling art at shows under The Wandering Pygmy.
“My business name for my dreamcatchers for years has been The Wandering Pygmy and I wanted it to be like I’m not going out and doing any shows anymore, so the Wanderer’s Rest just made sense,” Kearns said.
Kearns said opening in China Grove made sense.
“I grew up here,” Kearns said. “I have a sense of community about this place.”
She is also happy to give her community an activity to do at night.
“Other than Bella’s we have nothing going on at night in this community, like nothing,” she said. “Everything closes at 6 and everything stays closed. There’s nothing other than if you want to go out at two of these places. There is nobody in downtown. I’ve been out at like 8. I’ll go out and throw something in the garbage. I’ll look up and down the street and nobody is here.”
Her classes are 6 or 6:30 to 9 p.m. and she said with her classes downtown has become more lively.
The Wanderer’s Rest offers Pure Intentions coffee that is roasted in Charlotte and baked items from Better Loafing. She also offers compostable cups and a discount for customer’s who bring their own mug.
The coffee shop and art gallery is 113 S Main St., China Grove. To sign up for an art class, visit wanderersrestartcafe.com.
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