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‘You’re Not Really Alone’: State College Community Rallies Around Resilient Boba Tea Shop

When Atlas came to State College from California with hopes of opening a boba shop in the fall of 2022, he didn’t know what to expect from the close-knit college town.

However, at the start of the 2023 school year, when his store, Teadori, was faced with the risk of closure, the community came to his aid with open arms.

After hosting its grand opening in October 2022, Teadori started slow, with a handful of loyal customers and a growing social media presence. Amid a combination of low-projected sales and the slow State College summer months, Duong soon found the shop behind on rent and close to eviction.

Atlas deliberated different solutions between starting a GoFundMe and asking the building’s landlord for more time. In the end, Duong turned to social media on September 6 and informed Teadori’s followers of the unexpected news. Boldly, Atlas asked for help from the community to raise $10,000 in two days.

“It was pretty much ‘We have to do this right away’ because we were running out of time,” Atlas said.

The fundraising event originally ran from September 6 to 7 and was later extended to September 8. During the three-day fundraiser, Teadori offered 20% discount rates on gift cards, buy-one-get-one offers, and private tasting for folks who purchased gift cards greater than $300.

According to Atlas, the first day proved to be slower, as word had yet to spread, and the tea shop raised just $3,000.

Despite the initially low turnout, Atlas tried to stay upbeat and determined.

“I’m the type of person that never takes no for an answer,” Atlas said. “When I want to do something, I’m just going to find ways to do it.”

Profits picked up on the second day as newspapers, boba enthusiasts, and State College foodies flocked to the shop. Atlas also credited the informational infographics created by Cindy Liu posted on Teadori’s Instagram, as the updating price thermometer helped customers visualize the money raised. That day, Teadori finished with a total of around $7,000 raised.

On the final day of the fundraiser, Teadori raised the remaining $3,000 and met its $10,000 goal. Along with a host of new customers, Atlas owes gratitude to State College Facebook groups for spreading the word and multiple repeat customers who often showed up three to four times in a single day.

“I was surprised and really happy,” Atlas said. “The first time I came here, I learned this place is called the Happy Valley. So I feel like it’s kind of true.”

When asked what advice he has to give to other small businesses that may be struggling, Atlas emphasized staying positive, building relationships with your current customers, and not being afraid to ask for help.

“Sometimes you think that you’re alone, but you’re not really alone,” he said. “All you have to do is reach out to the community and ask for help. But, I feel like that’s the hardest part.”

As of now, Teadori is staying afloat, thanks to a general increase in customers and sales. However, due to increased rent, Atlas is planning for continued growth. Thanks to the fundraiser, Atlas has found new connections with students and State College residents.

The store also unveiled new coconut drinks, a garlic noodle dish, and a new Korean-Mexican fusion menu. It also changed its hours, extending the Thursday to Saturday times to noon to 2 a.m. including an additional two operational hours.

“I want to say thank you so much to our guests, it’s all thanks to them, or else we wouldn’t be here,” Atlas said. “I want Teadori to continue to stay here and be a part of the community.”

Editor’s note: Atlas’ last name was omitted for privacy.

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About the Author

Marie Moyer

Marie is a fourth-year student majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. She loves being fiscally irresponsible at local farmers markets, watching niche documentaries on HBO, and going to Penn State hockey games as "self-care." You can reach her on Instagram - @_mariemoyer_ or send her suggestions (and cat photos) via her email - [email protected].

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