Coffee shop


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Jul 28, 2013
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I have been tossing around the idea of opening a coffee shop and working on a business plan. There are a couple locations I have looked at and the one that is ideal to me at least would be in a shopping center , lots of traffic, the closest places that sell coffee are McDonalds and Books a million with three local shops about two blocks apart also two miles away , then a Starbucks and Dunkin donuts about three miles the opposite way. The down side some would consider is the spots are more in the corner of the shopping center, one is 1500 SF the other is 1000 SF. The lease is negotiable for both spots with other buildings going for about $13 a SF/YR. Would it be that bad of a spot ? I believe if it was marketed correctly there would be no problem. The spots have been empty for years now, what would be a fair offer ? Could use any advice , opinions and I have plenty of other questions about starting up.
Why are the spots vacant?
Who are your neighbors?
Part of marketing is choosing the right location.

Personally, I dislike shopping centers. Traffic is only good if it's the right kind of traffic. Be careful about being enamored with numbers.
I am a coffee business guy AND a commercial real estate guy (9-5), so I may be able to help you out.

First off, an out parcel would probably be best. It would also be best if you could get a spot with frontage to a road that gets a lot of traffic and you want to be in a good part of town.

Secondly, I would do some market research. Go out there and spend some time in the local coffee shops that aren't Starbucks and Dunkin. See what kind of foot traffic they're getting and how much of it. Are they business people? Are they stay at home moms? Etc. So you know what demographic to market to.

Next, who the neighbors are matter just as much as the location itself. You want neighbors that can be beneficial. Example, a doctor will want his office with close proximity to a major hospital.

Start there with that research and you'll be able to find the space for you. And then before you secure the space you can move forth with your marketing plan. Good luck!
FCA has most of it right, the only thing I would disagree with is "So you know what demographic to market to."
I see most shops make this mistake. Rather than marketing to a demographic (age, education, income, etc.), just make great coffee and market to everyone who loves great food/drink. I will pimp myself as I explain why it is better to create a "culture of coffee" rather than a "coffee culture" HERE.
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I'll try answering everything , the spots are in the corner of a L shaped design. The stores beside those spots are jewelry store, game stop, a frozen yogurt place and spa place. The city doesn't have a mall, so the shopping center picks up a lot of traffic, plenty of parking, easy to get to the spots I've looked at, most people from surrounding areas come to shop here, both roads that run by it are always busy, one is a main road that leads to the highway, then hospital and the main college the other way , the other leads to stores and schools in either direction but always high traffic. I have been to all the coffee shops around here, mostly the traffic is steady during the day and picks up at night. I see local shops using powder mix for frozen coffee, which I see a lot of people buying , something I would do differently use fresh coffee or espresso makes a big difference. I want to deliver coffee that people remember, not just say oh that was just ok. I do understand atmosphere and service are very important as well, without people feeling welcome and comfortable sitting down I wouldn't last very long. One example there use to be a place one of my friends had worked at, always had great service, really good drinks compared to other shops and a welcoming atmosphere which was always full of people on any given day and also it was out of the way , not a very busy area. Then the owner sold it to the manager who fired the staff, made the atmosphere darker, dark lighting , floors , walls. I went back a few times because they kept one of the drinks I liked, always got it to go, never really saw more then three people sitting in there and it closed about a year later. There are also stores across from the shopping center and land for sale, next to the road, Ashley furniture, kohl's , there would be a lot more planning and cost, but I've have ideas for what it would look like and have it energy efficient, practical and modern.
My advice would be to pass on that location. The dynamics of a shopping center are unique, and almost none of it is in a good way. You should see if the place you used to like to go wants to sell, and then revitalize it yourself. Otherwise, don't rush, you should take a year or two to scout out potential locations. Think long term.