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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    small town - how small is too small?

    How small a town is too small to support a coffee house?

    The town I'm looking at has a population of about 7,000. It is a bedroom community outside Philadelphia with a lot of commuters. It is one of Pennsylvania's old steel towns. I'm beginning to see revitalization with redevelopers snatching up the old abandoned warehouse and manufacturing properties. I smell potential. Businesses are beginning to move into renovated spaces, there is a growing community college campus and I'm aware of a new large condominium project currently underway (an old manufacturing plant is under demolition making room for this project). There has been talk for several years of a commuter train stopping in this town. There used to be a commuter train, back in the old steel days so there are existing tracks with commercial trains but no commuters ... yet. The train, truly is an unknown factor at this point, with the Chamber of Commerce working vigorously to make it a reality.

    There was a coffee house which opened and closed. The shop was dirty and the environment seemed to invite teenagers to sit around on old sofa's all day. I have a list of other reasons I can point to why I suspect it failed.

    Is a population of 7,000 too small and am I just being too optimistic?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    It sounds like you could do just fine. If you need a reason for more people to come you may want to have lunch and dinner items as well. If people can have a sandwich, with their coffee they will have more of a reason to come in

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    Small town.

    I don't know if they would be willing to share ideas, but this shop is in a very small town, Norton, KS according to 2000 census, they had around 3,100 people in town, and just under 6k in the county.

    White Fields Coffee House

    (785) 874-4686 128 S State St
    Norton, KS

    Hope that helps.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    La Junta, Colorado

    coffee house

    It is good to be optimistic. It proves you are enthusiactic about your plans.
    I ran a small restaurant on a seasonal basis for four years. Whatever you do, learn from this: The business in a small town will start off with a bang. The real test is when it begins to level off, can you mentally withstand the slow times? Also, make sure your help treats your customers with courtesy. Unlike losing a customer in the big city, there will be no one to replace the lost customers in a small town.
    Good Luck,

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    there is more to it than population

    Don't just look at basic population.
    What kind of cars do you see in parking lots?
    What kind of restaurants or stores are doing well?
    Is there commuter traffic that flows through from nearby towns?
    Is the Wawa always busy in the morning?
    Can you get good coffee roasted locally?
    Can you get good pasty baked locally?

    Coffee shops fail for lots of reasons, what will you do differently than the failed shop you mentioned?



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