West Salem coffee shop forgoes tips for donations

Oma's Monthly Missions raise $2,500

A new family business in downtown West Salem is making a mark, not only with its established regulars, but by helping local causes.

Kristina Sage opened Oma Coffee in December, and the shop has already gained a loyal following. However, it’s what they call their monthly missions that Sage and her family are most proud of.

Working alongside her daughter Reghan, and occasionally her husband Robbie, too, Sage has worked hard to establish Oma as West Salem’s local coffee shop.

“We strive for the best,” she said. “No artificial flavors come out of Oma. Everything’s made in house.”

The small shop was buzzing on a Saturday morning, and here, everybody knows your name.

“I’m so happy that we’re in the community that we are,” Sage said.

Hard work is customarily rewarded with tips, but things run a little differently here.

“Here at Oma we don’t accept any tips,” Sage said.

She and her four employees have agreed to forego tips for donations, turning pocket change into something more.

“Instead of throwing change, (customers) will get out their wallet and throw dollars,” Sage said. “Sometimes even twenties we find in there.”

“It means a lot to us to make it more than a coffee shop,” Robbie Sage said.

Each month Oma collects donations for a different cause, including the American Cancer Society, the La Crosse County K-9 unit and Catholic Charities warming centers.

“It’s really taking off,” Robbie said. “I think we’re constantly surprised at the end of the month how much more is being donated.”

Sage said about 75 percent of customers leave a donation, allowing the shop to donate more than $2,500 so far this year.

“I love it,” regular customer Stephanie Sharp said. She and her daughter stop by Oma at least twice a week.

“It’s a lot about the cinnamon rolls,” she said.

However, it’s also because of the monthly missions, which all have a local tie, including a benefit for one of Sharp’s friends.

“There wasn’t even a pause when I asked, it was an immediate, ‘Yes we will help,'” she said.

“We just wanted to give back to the community,” Sage said. “My mom was always a very giving person.”

In German, “Oma” means grandmother.

“Our kids helped me pick it out,” Sage said.

The name is in honor of Sage’s mother, who passed away a year ago.

It’s safe to say Oma has established itself as a local coffee shop, but also something more.

“I think she’d be very happy,” Sage said.

August’s monthly mission is for “Better than Bullets,” which helps children in Haiti. One of Oma’s customers and fellow business owners directly works with the cause.

Sage says the montly missions will continue. She doesn’t plan all months ahead of time, but wants to do something for Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October.