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A line forms for coffee at the Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop. The neighboring storefronts of East Main Street are reflected in the window.

The third place

story by Nikos Frazier

On a typical Saturday morning, the Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop opens slowly, with a trickle of regulars stopping in to grab a cup of joe and freshly baked pastry. Eventually a large queue forms as a single barista works behind the counter, taking orders and creating customers' caffeinated concoctions.

Farrah Baldwin, an academic advisor in Morehead State University's College of Humanities, is a regular.  "How often do I frequent the Fuzzy Duck?" she replies when asked. "How about, 'How much of my paycheck do I spend here?'"

“The idea for this business is not particularly for us to make money," says co-owner Grant Alden. "This is a community center."

Grant is a Seattle native. He grew up frequenting coffeehouses and remembers a Seattle coffee shop called The Third Place. The name was derived from a concept in sociology, the "third place" people need in their lives after home and work, a place in their community where they can congregate and feel accepted. "That's what [the Fuzzy Duck] seems to be," Grant says. "That’s the niche we’re filling."

When the shop first opened, Morehead residents doubted that an expensive coffee shop would be successful. Grant had funding from his in-laws, Marg and Dan Thomas, but that funding was not unlimited.  Fortunately, Grant's predictions of success were right, and after several years Marg and Dan and two of their friends decided to invest in a bookstore. The CoffeeTree Bookstore now shares space with the Duck in a renovated single-screen movie theater.

The sense of community the two shops promote extends beyond the experience of their regulars. It was even evident during a tragedy. "We really felt that during the flood," says Grant, remembering the massive rainstorm that forced them to move locations in 2010. "Because people we did not know came and helped us clean that mess up. People I have never seen before or since showed up."



Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop barista, Jessica Woods, erases a mistake on the chalkboard as she adds the soup of the day. Woods is a fifth-year student at Morehead State University studying animal sciences.


Anita McNeal and youngest daughter Lilah, 7, look at a jewelry displace case at CoffeeTree Books.


Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop barista, Jessica Woods, hands a drip coffee to a customer. Jessica is a fifth-year student at Morehead State University studying animal sciences.


A double shot of espresso streams into a vessel before being poured into a latte at Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop.


Anna (left) and Vaugh Boggess of Versailles kill time in Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop while waiting for their son, Eli, a senior at Morehead State University, to meet them for dinner. After transferring to MSU his junior year to play baseball, Eli was the leading hitter in all of Division I baseball last season.


Grant Alden, co-owner of CoffeeTree Books and Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop with his wife, Susan Thomas and in-laws, Marg and Dan Thomas, restocks the bookshelves in the teen section.


Leeann Akers smiles at her son, John, 6, as he shows off his homemade robot costume he wore for CoffeeTree Book's Ghost Stories competition.


Rain trickles down a car window as a single street lamp and the original marquee illuminate the storefront of CoffeeTree Books and Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop.

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