Who’d a thunk it? I’m a bad coffee shop customer. Me. The gal that doesn’t go a full day without a visit to the local java store! I’ve always considered myself a poster child candidate for most the devoted coffee patron poster. But, as it turns out, I don’t quality.
I’ve been scouting around researching the biz, and apparently, a successful coffee shop sells 74% espresso drinks and 26% plain cups of coffee. The normal coffee is offered just to assure the store is a full-service coffee stop. Most all of the coveted profit comes from those frappes, lattes, steamed and iced drinks. The people ordering them babies are the golden customers. I’m just taking up space.
Because, you see, I’m one of those people who always orders plain coffee. That happens to be what I like. I don’t even try the other offerings, because (God forbid) what if I like them? They are loaded with calories I don’t need, and they cost more than I want to invest for a casual snack umpteen times a week. Coffee, with a touch of cream to make it the color of my hair, topped off with an equal, does me fine. It’s not really the drink I’m going for anyway. It’s the concept of stopping motion for a brief moment in the day – to relax and breathe. In Florida, I’d drive through the local Starbucks for a quick coffee fix (and a little flirting with the coffee boys at the drive through) because just holding that steaming cup made me feel as if I was taking time for me. Here, I actually get out of my car and go into a place called LL Beanery and sit by the fireplace on a huge leather couch. I sip slowly, marveling at this gift I’ve stumbled upon, to live in the moment and appreciate the beauty of living true to oneself, for the first time in years. It’s not the taste of coffee that makes a cup of that mud so attractive. It is what is associated to it. Leisure, solitude, warmth, a mental vacation.
That is off the point. I’m supposed to be talking about the coffee biz.
Unsuccessful java stores are filled with customers like me. People who dare to order coffee at the coffee shop. The goal is to turn people like me into customers who order the hard stuff…. those coffee servers are nothing but bean pushers, trying to make us Frappichino addicts. Well, good luck with that, King Starbucks. I’m no java pushover, you know.
Lately, I’ve been going into coffee shops to sit, sipping my plain coffee, and I’ve begun counting customers and eyeing what they order. I’m this shadow, studying the characteristics of the coffee buying public and the houses that cater to them. It is fascinating. I also study the layout and merchandise offered at these coffeehouse/knick knack stores. Interesting. I’m doing all this math, mental acrobatics to break down the business – taking into consideration the space each division of the business consumes, cost of sales and investment required. And then I consider the opportunity costs – all the other things you could do with the same resources if you applied them to something other than a coffee shop/art gallery. Goodness, I think I actually learned something when I went to college. Who knew?
Remember, man cannot live on coffee sales alone (unless you are Starbucks man.) so I am researching art galleries too. Today, I went into a favored glass art gallery in town, which happens to be expanding to add other mediums. I asked the owner about his background. I have a way of starting conversations with people that opens them up. I found out lots of good stuff. This fellow was an art history major in college 30 years ago. Later, he worked doing window displays for a department store and he arranged house wares for best showcasing. When he retired from that, he went back to school and, for fun, took a gallery management class at a college in Atlanta (not far from here – hummmm). All told, these endeavors obviously combine to make him a perfect candidate for owning and operating an art gallery. I was envious of his experience – but mostly, I respect the path he’s taken to get where he is. I’m smart enough to know that success in any business demands an in-depth understanding of the business. Obviously, for all that I worship and adore art, I will need to learn a great deal more about the “business of art” before I am in charge of the kind of decisions art gallery management will produce. This does not mean I’m giving up – only buckling down.
I’ve talked at length with an owner of a <ST1Wood Art Gallery too. She is a snob, but a lovely snob. Art people are about the only people more uppity than dance people. Ha – not like anyone in art can intimidate me after all these years. She got into this business because her husband is a wood turner. I can give her a run for her money in that category. Anyway, I keep browsing Appalachian art exhibits and nature craft shows. All kinds of leads swirl around me, like the tentacles of a huge monster I want to tame.
The point is (and really, there is no point to this blog except that I’m really lonely today so I felt like writing something – its my manner of keeping company with invisible friends) I’m having fun speculating on a future business that is as far removed from my experience and knowledge as could be. I could hang up a shingle and just learn as I go, but I’m too wise to waste time and money like that at my ripe old age. An ounce of preparation can save a pound of headaches. Or is that pounding headaches… I’ve had a business before. I know.
Perhaps my research is going to begin and end as just that. Research without action following. I may learn enough to turn away from the entire idea. Or I will gain confidence and enthusiasm as I recognize the true potential of the project. Time will tell. I will follow instinct and my heart. It never steers me wrong. For all I know, fate is pushing me in this direction simply to distract me from dance. It kills me not to open a dance school here. Not that I want one, but this area NEEDS one. And I don’t need to do any research to get that. Shoot me.
In the meantime, my daily cups of coffee have taken on new meaning. Just goes to show, even stopping for a cup of coffee can be an inspirational event if you find a way to make it so.