Small Town Coffee Shop Owner Needs HELP!

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HollyAmber87

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I know, I know --another newbie opening a coffee shop. Please, bear with me and hear my story. If you have any input whatsoever, I would love to hear it!


I was a barista for a few years before I switched over to a career in banking. I recently moved from a pretty big city to a very, very tiny town of about 800 people. I bought a house, which came with a two story store (that resembles a red barn). The store is about 1200sq total and was previously a flower shop. I haven’t started to do anything to the shop other than begin planning out what type of store to transform it into.


I have decided to make it a little coffee house, based on the fact that we have no other coffee shops in town. Sure, you can go to the gas station for a cup of black, but that's about it. I am off of the major highway in town, but not on Main Street, which has the bank, bars, and our gas station. I can be seen when coming into town though, so that is a major plus.


Everywhere I search, I get all of this information on how a shop’s location, employees, and rent are the biggest concerns and expenses. I own this shop and do not have to pay anything other than power as an additional expense as of right now. Also, I will only have one additional employee other than myself. So, what I want to know is: where do I start?


To the owners out there, how did you find out what machines you would need or the items required for your shop to run smoothly? How did you decide where to get your beans? To start out, do you need huge, commercial espresso and coffee machines or can you get away with non-traditional ways like Chemex or Rok? I have been doing my best to research, but I want to make sure I do this right the first time around.


I’m also looking into going to a coffee convention to learn as much as I can. I haven't been able to track down any type of online schools or anything that will teach more information on everything. I feel like I have so much information swimming all around me, but I can't grab onto exactly which information I actually need to get this show on the road. I hope someone can help guide me down the right path!

Thank you for taking the time to read this! I look forward to reading your responses! :lol:
 

CoffeeJunky

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Dec 7, 2012
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Michigan, US
Welcome Aboard...
Well you came to right place. We do have search option and this was answered few times in the past as well.
I think the first thing you should do is to identify the coffee supplier. But before that, you need to plan on how much you are willing to spend for the build out, equipment and over all expenses.
Once you have mind set on budget, I would then find the coffee supplier. You need also decide what type of coffee you want to serve to your customers. Do you want to be better then starbucks coffee or just about the same. ( I am only using starbucks as example since they are very well known) Because there is no competition, it doesn't mean you will have great customer base.

So here is few things to consider...

1. Check your cash availability.
2. Type of build out you want to do on your property.
3. Price out some fixtures. (table, chair, sofa, decorations and things)

After these there, and you are still hot about buidling your own coffee shop,

4. Find the coffee roaster who would supply you. Find out their price.
5. Ask your supplier for the recommended coffee equipment and related product such as fridge, freezer, ice maker, and all the things you would need to run a coffee shop

If you are still positive about opening, now is good time to really plan carefully. How you are going to spend and budget.

I think above should take few weeks of your time.
Let us know what you found out or if you already have answers for them, please let me know.
 

eldub

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Mar 28, 2012
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Think twice before committing time and money in a shop located on a town if 800 people. I have a tough time believing that community is large enough to warrant the effort. The space might be free and beautiful but if you calculate how many cups of coffee you need to sell per day in order to keep your doors open I'm guessing you will need the patronage of a large percentage of the population to make it worth your time and the odds are against you, IMO.
 

eldub

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Mar 28, 2012
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Btw, I would estimate that you could sell an average of 20 cups per day in that small of a town. At three dollars a cup, that would bring in $60/day or $420 a week if you open every day. Is it really worth the effort for $1,680 per month before paying for equipment, supplies labor and lights?
 
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HollyAmber87

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Thank you for your responses! I will dig around and see what I can come up with from previous forum posts @CoffeeJunky!

@Eldub - This town is tiny, but it is the only rest stop for people coming through this part of Nevada. Anyone heading through is bound to stop for the night, or stop for gas, as there is nothing else for quite a while. We are the gateway to Death Valley, and in the Summer we are swarming with tourists. The restaurants in town do a pretty steady amount every month. We don't have a grocery store, Mcdonalds or any fast food other than a subway so people in town often crave variety. I know that when I wake up and rush to work I wish I could stop and grab a bagel and an iced coffee, but unfortunately there is no where to do that here. That being said, do you think I would stand a chance?
 

John P

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Jan 5, 2007
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Salt Lake City
You know your town best, but I agree with eldub.

Seasonal business is a crap shoot, it's not like it's a resort town.

You have a BIG decision to make. Do you want to run a successful business? Or do you want to run a business there and hope it will be successful. These are different things. Not every town has the numbers to support a local bakery, coffee shop, butcher, etc. The best answer is to find a town with similar demographics that has a successful coffee shop and then see if their model will work for you. Often the most difficult step is to take a dispassionate and realistic look at your situation. You know the old phrase, "I'd bet the farm." Well, would you?

In the end, the answer(s) might be. Yes, others are doing it in a similar location, and I can do it too.
I will stay here, but I know I cannot do my business here.
I can do it, but I need to move and start from scratch.

Due diligence.
 
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HollyAmber87

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I do have a lot to think about.

There was a coffee shop here run by a pretty young girl about a year or so before I moved here. I have chatted with her and without saying specifics, she told me that she did pretty well for herself in the first year of being open, but the building owner wanted to raise rent, and she just couldn't do it, so she closed down. She offered to let me basically rent all of her equipment for a pretty low price if I wanted to give it a whirl. I was thinking about just saving up and buying everything piece by piece so eventually I have it all done and completely paid off and I wouldn't have any loans or bills other than replenishing the shop and what not.

Thoughts? Thanks guys!
 
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HollyAmber87

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Also, I am here to stay, so I am going to do what you said : I am going to seek out a town this size and try to talk to the owners of a coffee shop and compare to see if it can be done. :)
 

Santinelli

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Nov 11, 2013
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Holly, one other thing to consider is to see if the state DOT has any traffic counts for your area so you can see what the actual potential is for customers coming in. :) Good luck!

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
 

CoffeeJunky

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Dec 7, 2012
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Michigan, US
I do have a lot to think about.

There was a coffee shop here run by a pretty young girl about a year or so before I moved here. I have chatted with her and without saying specifics, she told me that she did pretty well for herself in the first year of being open, but the building owner wanted to raise rent, and she just couldn't do it, so she closed down. She offered to let me basically rent all of her equipment for a pretty low price if I wanted to give it a whirl. I was thinking about just saving up and buying everything piece by piece so eventually I have it all done and completely paid off and I wouldn't have any loans or bills other than replenishing the shop and what not.

Thoughts? Thanks guys!

Its pretty good idea but not knowing the condition of the equipment, it would be difficult to give you specific answer . There are always risk involved when you are buying used equipment.

I own a small coffee shop in small town(about 9,000). When this shop was opened 1999 there were about 6,000 people in this down. When the shop was opened, we were welcome by many different people and we did revenue of 270,000 first year and we are on our way to do around 500,000 this year. Of course your town is much smaller but I still think there are room for small coffee shop with not much over head. I would suspect it won't be huge profit but if you have extra space and it sure does make sense to me.

If you are hoping to make very good living out of your coffee shop, it will be big mistake to open but if you want to give a nice place for people to come and enjoy along with few bucks in your pocket, what is the wrong with your idea? Nothing.
 

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