Big Named Coffee Shop Hurting Me, The Little Guy


New member
Mar 10, 2004
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Hi ,

I am facing a bit of a problem, I have a coffee shop for a bit more then a year now and everything used to be just fine, until recently opened a local famous coffee shop right beside me and now is like i am totally invisible :!:

what can i possibly do :?


New member
Jan 17, 2004
Redmond, WA
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I don't own a shop (yet) and have not experienced what you are going through. But here's my $.02.

1. Don't panic.
2. Stop in at the "other coffeehouse" and observe it carefully. Try their coffee and pastries or whatever they are serving. Find out what the hub-bub is all about. Observe the customers and see if you can discerrn why there are going there instead of your place. However, don't try to match everything they are doing. It will come off as being superficial.
3. Like what the other poster had said, keep your focus on quality. Don't shortcut quality for speed of service, or cutting costs.
4. Customers (I am a professional customer :wink: ) like proper service. I once saw a barista at some coffeehouse set down a to-go cup of drip coffee, yelled out "drip coffee!", turn around and disappeared before the customer turned her head to look at the counter. It wasn't even busy (I was the only other customer there!) No eye contact, no smile, literally no service. And it was rude, rude, rude. Fact is, coffee is more of an experience including the product AND the service. If you and your baristas have time, chat with your customers if it looks to be an opportunity. Love the people who walk into your door. (but don't get all puppydog-like and slobber all over them :grin: )
5. Ask your baristas for input on more ideas.

wish you my best!


New member
Mar 24, 2004
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Condolences and good luck!

Hi Oxygen,

I agree with the others that quality and exceptional customer service will outweigh "fame" in the longrun if you can afford to wait for the new to wear off of the competition. What can you offer that the competitor doesn't? I am talking about not only product, but atmosphere perhaps.....For me, atmosphere outweighs everything (unless the product or service is EXCEPTIONALLY bad!).

Best of luck to you!


New member
Apr 11, 2004
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well I think the case is.. you are dealing with uneducated coffee customers
these people see a flash new big store and they thinks thats more cool!
COOL!! being the word!! you need to check and see what kind of customers are drinking coffee in your area. age range! stereo type etc..
if you are loosing customers because of quality! which I think is not the case! then you should think about changing brands, but if you are loosing customers because your store looks like a smaller version of next door only less attractive.. then you really need to see who your customers are and redesign your store to a more hip, cool, funky store.. start playing alittle louder music, funky new sound, create some more fusion snacks. start to make a cult following.. thats an example of a typical university stereotype.. I dont know maybe you are dealing in housewives or office workers.. then you must suite for their needs...
dont be affraid of the big boys.. just work alittle harder and show your store is fresh, and cool..


New member
Something no one else has suggested is advertising to get some of your customers back. I have had great success with supermarket receipt advertising offering a free espresso drink with the purchase of an espresso drink. I word the offer 'Treat a Friend' and I use nice, romantic coffee colours so I can offer something people are interested in with out making my product cheap.

Another idea! Get some students to hand out free samples of your espresso and a treat a friend coupon. That will get your till ringing and it will get you back into the community.


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Apr 13, 2004
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I originally posted this response in the wrong place so forgive me for those of you who read it in anti-starbucks thread but it was ment as a reply for oxygen here.

First of all let me preface my response by saying that I am new to the site and to the business. My wife and I are opening our coffee shop in the fall and have been doing nothing but educating ourselves in every facet of the espresso product and the business in general.

To me, quality has to be a priority; whether your competing with Starbucks or an Independent Shop. We're all asking our customer to spend part of their already slim disposible income on a $2-$3 cup of coffee and why would they do that on a marginal product. Competition is healthy for everyone involved and the customer will always win, educated customers will always find the best value being the best quality for the best price and I don't believe Starbucks is too hard to beat in that respect.

Article of interest for those worried about Starbucks putting them out of business. (Wall Street Journal- Tue.Sept24,2002) The article is entitled Counting Beans - Despite the Jitters, Most Coffeehouses Survive Starbucks. The synopsis of which is that against conventional wisdom independents benefit from Starbucks educating the market and getting people interested in what it is you have to sell. If you focus on Quality instead of losing business to Starbucks or anyone else; combine that with a competitive price and great customer service you will succeed.

I appreciate all of the insite I get from this forum, great site.