Chris Goode isn’t angry, the Ruby Jean’s founder said after an overnight break-in left shattered glass and an empty cash register at his juicery and kitchen on Troost.
“When trials come, maintain the faith and just keeping pressing forward,” Goode said. “People responded to that message pretty quickly. We know that the business is supported — and I see that consistently: there’s a good vibe that surrounds us and our mission — but you don’t know how much support you have until something like this happens.”
Click here to read why Ruby Jean’s Juicery was selected as one of Startland’s Startups to Watch in 2018.
A window was broken, but the community has stayed united, Goode emphasized. Texts, emails, social media messages and financial contributions from across Kansas City and the world have poured in for the popular juicery that provides a burst of color and optimism for its customers, he said.
“There’s so much division in the world today that it’s cool to see people come together and say ‘You know what? That small business means something to our community, and we’re going to rally behind them,’” he said.
Click here to learn more about Ruby Jean’s and its healthy products.
Shaken but not deterred
When a store leader opened Ruby Jean’s Troost location Friday morning, she quickly realized something was wrong, Goode said.
A steel rod had been used to break through heavy duty glass at the store, he explained, noting a closed street nearby might have reduced traffic enough to give the thief or thieves cover to break in.
“There just weren’t as many active eyes around, and we got caught being a little too relaxed, a little too trusting,” Goode said. “More than anything — outside of the losses — it shook us up a bit. It’s a weird energy. If you ever had a house burglarized, it’s kind of violating — like ‘Man, somebody’s been in my house, and I didn’t invite them in.’”
Damage was limited, he said, but as Goode continues his attempt to scale Ruby Jean’s, any setback is significant.
“Fortunately enough, they didn’t come in and destroy the place to the point of no return, but they caught us at a good time — for themselves anyway — and it’s hit us pretty hard,” he said.
A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign launched Saturday, thanks to a supporter of the business hoping to raise $10,000.
“Ruby Jean’s has brought so much to the Kansas City community, we can not and will not let a malicious act bring down this incredible black-owned business,” Bria Jones of Leawood, wrote in the GoFundMe post.
Click here to learn more about or to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign.
“I was against starting a GoFundMe following the recent robbery of our Troost location as I wanted nothing more than to give God glory in spite of the circumstances,” Goode wrote in a Facebook post. “However there was one created on our behalf anyway. I’m humbled just humbled. Being a kid from this community it’s amazing to have the support of an entire city when it matters most. I owe Kansas City so much and will continue to keep my heart for the city. #Godspeed”
If proceeds from the campaign exceed what is needed to cover losses, damage and beefing up security, Goode plans to organize some kind of community celebration as an expression of his appreciation, he said.
A bright spot from a dark deed
Widespread support for Ruby Jean’s this week has reaffirmed Goode’s belief in the importance and impact of his venture, which emphasizes a healthy diet and lifestyle, he said.
“If this dark thing someone did in the middle of the night helps build awareness and makes more people want to get healthier, man, it had to happen. It needed to happen. I’m excited to press forward,” he said.
“Maybe that person who violated our business and stole from us … maybe they needed it — maybe more than us,” Goode continued. “Maybe he or she had kids who were hungry. I don’t know. Maybe it serviced a need, but it also allowed our community to come together and show unity. So I couldn’t even be angry at whoever did it because such a negative thing has turned into such a positive light.”
The break-in hasn’t shaken the entrepreneur’s faith — nor his faith in Kansas City’s east side and Ruby Jean’s place within a broader plan, he said.
“I want Troost to be an example of what our entire city is. I want it to be a place that represents unity, progress and change,” Goode said. “If Ruby Jean’s can be a conduit to connect people and provide a gathering place, that’s our purpose. Our clientele is diverse in every way.”
“We have an opportunity to set an example for an entire nation,” he continued. “We’re in the center of the country, and I get the sense that what we’ve built has become a bright spot in people’s lives. I want to carry out my role in that journey for as long as I should.”
Watch below to see how the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is showcasing Chris Goode and Ruby Jean’s Juicery as an example of entrepreneurism.