Kim Cressell has the Greatest Shop on Earth

Posted by Monica Hoel
It’s a shop that is far more exciting than retail; but what ARE those red buildings?

After living and traveling all over the world, Kim Cressell (E&H ’93) has found a home in “paradise.” And she and her partner, Jessica Simmons, have succeeded in building a business that feels like home to all who visit.

For 10 years, passersby on Highway 41 in Sarasota, Florida (near the Gulf of Mexico), wondered what those three abandoned, bright red buildings were. One day, Kim and Jessica asked about those historically significant buildings, bought them, and created a venue that is also a wonderfully dynamic community gathering spot.

The Reserve has seasonal vacation rentals, a coffee shop and a bookstore. You’ll find craft beers, fine wines, and kombucha. There is live music inside and out. And the patrons are diverse by any definition. Kim says they are especially proud to be part of a place that reflects such broad diversity. “Our patrons are socioeconomically diverse, racially diverse – even their ages are diverse. We have a regular who is 100 years old!”

Kim and Jessica just celebrated the one-year anniversary of The Reserve in January 2018, and things aren’t slowing down – except perhaps the tourists after “season” is over. Kim says “after Easter, it’s like someone turned off the people faucet!” But The Reserve is staying busy now with locals who not only shop there but also dawdle there. “We often start the day talking with a former Broadway performer who comes to have coffee. Throughout the day we’ll talk with authors, painters, sculptors – Sarasota is full of artists and performers—a diverse and vibrant community.”

Kim says they market themselves as a “progressive outpost,” and that is particularly evident in the book shop. Kim notes that small local bookstores are making a comeback and attributes that fact with people wanting “an authentic experience.” She is proud that their book selection makes a statement. “You can read through the titles and know I came from Emory & Henry and have a liberal arts background!”

It’s not just about the coffee; it’s about the time people spend together. “It’s like we’ve extended the E&H experience. I remember being behind Dr. Steve Hopp in the cafeteria line at Emory & Henry, and he would be having some esoteric conversation with someone that was completely over my head, but I loved it! At The Reserve, the coolest conversations happen!” Kim says she and Jessica and their kids hang out there even when they’re “off the clock.”

 

Those mysterious old red buildings are now home to an eclectic, entertaining, exciting hub for the community. And Kim Cressell is keeping a lot of plates spinning there; but that can happen when you’re hanging out in a place built to be a home for circus magnate Charles Ringling.

  • Kim Cressell (E&H '93) at The Reserve in Sarasota, Florida.
    Kim Cressell (E&H '93) at The Reserve in Sarasota, Florida.
  • The Reserve is an eclectic coffee, book, and wine shop that also serves as a community hub in Sar...
    The Reserve is an eclectic coffee, book, and wine shop that also serves as a community hub in Sarasota, Florida.
  • The Reserve at night: it stays busy as a live music venue, too.
    The Reserve at night: it stays busy as a live music venue, too.
“It’s like we’ve extended the E&H experience.”
– Kim Cressell, E&H ’93

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