small town - how small is too small?


New member
Mar 10, 2005
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How small a town is too small to support a coffee house?

The town I'm looking at has a population of about 7,000. It is a bedroom community outside Philadelphia with a lot of commuters. It is one of Pennsylvania's old steel towns. I'm beginning to see revitalization with redevelopers snatching up the old abandoned warehouse and manufacturing properties. I smell potential. Businesses are beginning to move into renovated spaces, there is a growing community college campus and I'm aware of a new large condominium project currently underway (an old manufacturing plant is under demolition making room for this project). There has been talk for several years of a commuter train stopping in this town. There used to be a commuter train, back in the old steel days so there are existing tracks with commercial trains but no commuters ... yet. The train, truly is an unknown factor at this point, with the Chamber of Commerce working vigorously to make it a reality.

There was a coffee house which opened and closed. The shop was dirty and the environment seemed to invite teenagers to sit around on old sofa's all day. I have a list of other reasons I can point to why I suspect it failed.

Is a population of 7,000 too small and am I just being too optimistic?


New member
Jan 22, 2005
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It sounds like you could do just fine. If you need a reason for more people to come you may want to have lunch and dinner items as well. If people can have a sandwich, with their coffee they will have more of a reason to come in


New member
Aug 13, 2004
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Small town.

I don't know if they would be willing to share ideas, but this shop is in a very small town, Norton, KS according to 2000 census, they had around 3,100 people in town, and just under 6k in the county.

White Fields Coffee House

(785) 874-4686 128 S State St
Norton, KS

Hope that helps.
coffee house

It is good to be optimistic. It proves you are enthusiactic about your plans.
I ran a small restaurant on a seasonal basis for four years. Whatever you do, learn from this: The business in a small town will start off with a bang. The real test is when it begins to level off, can you mentally withstand the slow times? Also, make sure your help treats your customers with courtesy. Unlike losing a customer in the big city, there will be no one to replace the lost customers in a small town.
Good Luck,


New member
Feb 8, 2005
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there is more to it than population

Don't just look at basic population.
What kind of cars do you see in parking lots?
What kind of restaurants or stores are doing well?
Is there commuter traffic that flows through from nearby towns?
Is the Wawa always busy in the morning?
Can you get good coffee roasted locally?
Can you get good pasty baked locally?

Coffee shops fail for lots of reasons, what will you do differently than the failed shop you mentioned?