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Seasonal Business - Should we close in the down season?

moabsdailygrind

New member
Dec 10, 2006
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Hi, does anyone else operate a coffee business in a small, seasonal town? Our drive-thru has been open 9 months now, and we thought we were prepared for the winter down season, but it's been awful. We have never done extremely high volume, but we were at least turning a small profit which I thought was good for our first year. Last Saturday I sold $9, which was just depressing. So, now we are trying to decide if we should close for the winter season. There is one other drive-thru in town who is better established. As soon as December 1st hit, they radically cut their hours and started closing at 1 pm (they were open until 6). I try to pay attention to what they are doing, because I know they are really clever people.

I guess what my real question is, is do you think it would upset my local business if I closed for 6 weeks? Would this be detrimental to the growth of my business? My location is good, one that is more convenient for many people than the other drive-thru. However, because we are a seasonal town, many of the businesses close in the winter, including the restaurants.

When I first started, my goal was to capture enough of the local business to make it through the down-season. However, I did not anticipate that even many of my regulars leave in the winter because the town is so dead.

We have actually already been closed down a week because our espresso machine broke (another post). But, I spent so much on holiday flavors, christmas baskets, and extra beans, I don't want it all to go to waste. My husband says to just give it to our relatives for gifts this year.

Please share your advice.
 

CafeBlue

New member
Dec 8, 2006
121
0
Toronto
A restaurant I frequent closes for 3 weeks every year, right after New Years. The owner decided that the slower business after the holidays was not worth as much as his free time. The employees love the vacation, especially since they all just wore out their shoes for 6 weeks. Please note that they would be profitable if they chose to open.
I also frequent visit a small town that is very seasonal - less than 8,000 year round residents, no winter sports. Some of the seaonal businesses like B&B's and inns only open from April or even May through September. The town has about four cafes and five nice restaurants. The cafes (no drive throughs) stay open year round, but most shorten hours in winter. I imagine it would be less volume for a drive through only site. The restaurants all close for at least two weeks consecutively, two close for a month each, one closes for four months. They try to coordinate their closed times to allow each of them to be open as the sole option for town during a week or two each winter. It is symbiotic and very small-town mellow of them and the town clientelle is fine with the apparent lack of highly ambitious grasping for market share.
Lots of dairy queen type ice cream shops close for the winter. My only qualm is that thie winter is generally good for coffee business. Perhaps you can close for two or three days/week - maybe even trade days with your competitor? Perhaps close at 1:00 p.m., but $9 isn't worth your time, utilities or goodwill.
Good luck.
 
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moabsdailygrind

New member
Dec 10, 2006
5
0
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Thanks for your advice! I think we might reopen for the weekdays, and be closed on the weekends. I have good employees and am worried they will find other work if I don't retain them.
 
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