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Small-town/Rural Coffee Shop

This is a discussion on Small-town/Rural Coffee Shop within the Coffee Shops, Espresso Bars & Cafes forums, part of the Coffee Addicts category; I was recently deeded a turn of the century building in a small midwestern town (pop. 4,000) that is revitalizing its downtown. I am putting ...

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    Small-town/Rural Coffee Shop

    I was recently deeded a turn of the century building in a small midwestern town (pop. 4,000) that is revitalizing its downtown. I am putting in a coffee shop and was wondering if there were any small town shop owners on this forum and if they might have any advice. I've worked in big city coffee shops but this is a new experience for me. There is currently no full-service coffee shop in town and the closest Starbucks is forty miles away. Thank you!

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    The small towns in the Midwestern state where we are located are pretty much dying. I would think long and hard before sinking any money into a coffee shop in a rural setting in the Midwest. Farmers aren't looking for "fancy" coffee, in general.

    Unless you can make ends meet on a shop doing a low volume of sales I would think twice before sinking any money in this venture. Location is everything. It sounds to me like this location fell into your lap and you are now trying to figure out what to do with it, rather than finding a great place to set up shop.
    Last edited by eldub; 10-28-2013 at 11:26 AM.

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    Thank you for the reply! I have created a simple menu for this reason and we are offering bakery items like bread puddings and kolaches (popular, here.) We're also doing specialty iced teas.

    I didn't mean to indicate that the location was bad & probably should have been more specific. The shop is located one block from the courthouse where festivals and concerts take place, a replica pioneer village, a historical museum, strange taxidermy museum, two hotels, and a theater. It is all very walkable. & there are two busy restaurants- one hip tapas place and a greasy spoon diner.

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    My shop is in town of about 10,000 people but I am middle of business district where people do come from out of town. I am the only coffee shop other then ice cream shop down the road from me.
    If you have good location, I would consider opening but like eldub said, you have to have some type of customer base to bringing in enough to survive.

    Tell me more about the town and situation. Your surrounding. Type of rent and expense you are expecting etc.....

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    It sounds like you might get some visitors in the neighborhood, which should help.

    Good luck with your venture.

    lw

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    We also have an ice cream shop around the corner! The town is half the size of your town. We are right in the center of downtown. We will be the only place serving coffee and tea. & the only place in town with free wi-fi. We won't have any rent or mortgage as the building was donated to us. Our fixed expenses will be utilities which will be covered by the rent we charge for office space, insurance, taxes, wi-fi. Part of our capital will cover renovations. We will take a small loan out to purchase appliances- everything used besides the espresso machine and grinders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bronzebear View Post
    We also have an ice cream shop around the corner! The town is half the size of your town. We are right in the center of downtown. We will be the only place serving coffee and tea. & the only place in town with free wi-fi. We won't have any rent or mortgage as the building was donated to us. Our fixed expenses will be utilities which will be covered by the rent we charge for office space, insurance, taxes, wi-fi. Part of our capital will cover renovations. We will take a small loan out to purchase appliances- everything used besides the espresso machine and grinders.

    That is great situation.
    You already have some possible customer base.

    Where are are you going to get your coffee?
    Are you planning on roasting your own or purchase from someone.

    Who is doing the build out? Yourself or are you going to hire someone or company.

    Are you going to have full service coffee shop or small restaurant with coffee.

    have you talk to locals and see what they say about your idea of having a coffee shop?

    Those are few questions I can think of.
    I will add later when I can come up with more.

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    I am having a tough time deciding on a coffee roaster. I have a very strong allegiance to my hometown coffee roaster in Milwaukee- Colectivo (formerly Alterra.) But I also want to support a semi-local roaster either in Oklahoma or Texas. I don’t have any plans to roast my own.


    We are doing everything minus HVAC, electrical and plumbing. For now we will stick to coffee and local bakery items. There is however an older kitchen already part of the building, so we have the space if we decide to do sandwiches. We have talked to locals and this was their number one request- a bright clean place with wi-fi and coffee. It’s also currently a “dry county” or you cannot buy liquor by the drink. A repeal is currently on the ballot and will be voted on in November. Once that goes we hope to offer wine by the glass, too.

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    Very interesting.

    I would visit few roasters and see what they offer. Don't settle on the best priced coffee but post up some of the roasters here and maybe we can give you some feed back.

    Having a kitchen is a plus. You will benefit from it. Don't try to do too much but make it clean and open. Don't try to cover everything but clean and put wall hangings like local artist paintings, pictures and photo to hide imperfection.

    LIke you have stated above, buy everything used but espresso machine and grinder.
    Make sure you have enough storage, extra fridge, freezer and small office you can lock up.

    Let us know if you have anymore questions.

  11. #10
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    Living in Milwaukee for the last 30 years, I have a lot of respect for Collectivo. I've like several of their coffees, even if I like mine more...

    For you, it's about who will give you the best beans, as that's what your success will rest on, along w/ other things obviously. Like CoffeeJunky says, visit a few roasters, get some samples of various beans from each, and see what you think. Loyalty to a roaster is great, but that may not actually translate into what your customers can appreciate or help to grow your business.

 

 
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