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Local bakery and creamery gives back to the River Falls community

November 13, 2018

Mei Mei’s Cookies and Creamery shop is a local business located in downtown Wisconsin, River Falls. It has dedicated many efforts toward giving back to the community. The small business is relatively new to town after opening just a little over a year ago, on August 15th, 2017. Mei Mei’s has a variety of ice cream flavors, unique cookies, and edible cookie dough, as well as homemade soups and sandwiches. Owner Melissa Abouch is originally from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, but has brought several new and innovative ways to help members of the community give back to charitable organizations, here to River Falls.

There are several opportunities that Mei Mei’s has created to help customers donate to special causes, including their “Kindness Cookies,” a donation jar alongside their daily free coffee and advocating for common organizations such as “Toys for Tots.” Each technique is put in place by the shop to encourage community building. Abouch said, “This community loves to give, and I am able to create opportunities for them to do so.”

Each of these opportunities were made to help make the ice cream shop a fun experience and positive environment. The way the “Kindness Cookies” work, is for customers to create a category of any sort, as broad or precise as they wish, and to buy as many cookies as they would like to for that category. The category is then put on a chalkboard for customers to see and anyone that comes in to the shop that may fit into any category previously made, receives a cookie. The whole concept is to reinforce the idea of paying it forward. For example, one category is labeled for River Falls police officers, if any officers come into the shop and there are cookies available for them, they get one for free.

Another way that Mei Mei’s encourages giving back is their “Coffee for a Cause” donation jar. Abouch chooses new organizations and places a jar that encourages donations alongside their free coffee, all donations go toward whichever organization is chosen. Abouch said, “Coffee for a Cause is donation oriented and all donations go to the chosen organization.” Mei Mei’s also hosts a site for the “Toys for Tots” program and encourages community members to donate toys.

Additionally, the shop dedicates themselves to being environmentally friendly by having reusable dishes and containers for customers. They also have a variety of food options that are freshly prepared every day by their chef. The shop is very accommodating to many diets, there are several gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options available to customers. Mei Mei’s also has countless board games for customers to engage in while visiting the shop. According to Abouch, she refers to Mei Mei’s as being “Part of the community, and a space for anyone to come and enjoy.”

Despite being in the heart of downtown River Falls, the shop does not receive many customers from the university. When Mei Mei’s first opened, Abouch had anticipated that UWRF students would be her main customer base. However, there has been a large amount of community members that have been that main customer base which gives her a great opportunity to help them give back. Nonetheless, Abouch would love to reach more members of the UWRF campus. Mei Mei’s delivers to the River Falls campus and is open late to accommodate to students and their schedules.

The local business has high aspirations for the future of the shop. Mei Mei’s hopes to maintain their importance within the River Falls community. By giving the opportunity to community members to donate while also enjoying the atmosphere of Mei Mei’s, Melissa Abouch hopes to continue to give customers an entertaining and enjoyable place to be. Mei Mei’s is located at 113 Elm Street River Falls, WI and is available at 715-629-2100.