Is it the coffee or connection? I remember way back, ohh…probably in the mid-90’s (referred to as the 20th century by my daughter), Tim Hortons was everywhere. There seemed to be one on every corner. I even looked in to what it would take to purchase a franchise. I believe back then, if memory serves, it was approximately 200K of which a good portion had to be unencumbered funds, as in cash. Back then that seemed like a helluva lot of money. Wonder what it is today?
Then other coffee places started popping up…Starbucks, Bridgehead, independents…and there were 2 or 3 coffee shops within a block of each other, sometimes on the same corner. I thought, “Wow, how are all these places going to stay in business?” But everyday there was a lineup at Timmie’s often out the door.
Almost 25 years later, this has not changed. There are more coffee shops than ever and all seem to be thriving. I marvel at this and how we embrace the coffee shop. How we use this space. It’s a business meeting place, working on your laptop place, a study place, catching up with friends place, sitting quietly and reading, or people watching place. Let alone enjoying a cuppa of whatever you like to drink.
And it’s not a generational thing. All ages and genders come to the coffee shop. Seniors gather there. Moms and dads bring their young kids there. University students study there. My 15 year old daughter is always asking to go there. Not to mention the never-ending stream of people who stop in before, during, and after work.
The culture of the establishments themselves have changed. It’s more relaxed, casual, a ‘let the customers do their own thing’ vibe. Years ago, it would have been frowned upon to sit around for hours drinking a coffee. You probably would’ve been asked to leave.
Think of how business has changed especially for small business owners. We no longer need office space. We can conduct our business at the local coffee shop. It provides so much opportunity for those of us just starting out.
I think we come to the coffee shop for the connection. Yes, many of us like our Triple, Venti, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiatos but it’s really about connecting and feeling you belong in the community. As a solo entrepreneur, I can often get holed up for days working away in my office, only talking to the dog. I have to remind myself to get out even if it means bringing my laptop and working at the local coffee shop. The energy is different, there are people around. You feel you are part of the community even if you don’t talk to anyone. It’s that human connection.
The whole notion of meeting and connecting with people at the coffee shop is how I came up with the idea of hosting my own COKANNA Community Coffee Shop. The very first one took place last Sunday. It was an experiment, a trial run. I sent out 28 invitations, knowing that typically half will respond, and then half will actually show up. I thought if I get 7 women, I’ll be happy. I’ll consider it a success. Well, lo and behold, 17 people showed up.
These women did not know each other, well a few did or they brought a friend, but for the most part, they were from different walks of life. A few of my new neighbours, my skating buddies, past co-workers, long-time friends, other small business owners, friends from the adoption community and the breast cancer community, even the Sales Rep who sold me my condo. Everyone was chatting and having a good time, enjoying some coffee and dessert, just like at the coffee shop. It was so much fun! It was just how I imagined and hoped it would be.
And people were shopping. People were trying on clothes. Several people bought whole outfits, 2, 3, and even 4 pieces. They could take their time, try on things in different colours and sizes, come out and get feedback from the other ladies. There were 3 changerooms going…my ensuite, the main bathroom, and my daughter’s bedroom. There was a lot of action but in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
There was absolutely no pressure to buy. People came, most people looked, not everyone tried things on, and most certainly not everyone bought, and there was no expectation they needed to.
I want to keep doing this, maybe once a month, and really create a community that gathers at the COKANNA Coffee Shop. This is how I want to do business, to connect with women and bring women together.
I’m super excited to do the next one on Sunday, June 2nd, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. If you’re interested in joining me at the Coffee Shop, the best way to not miss out is to sign up for my newsletter. Fill in your name and email in the bright pink box below.
I’ll see you at the next Coffee Shop!’ In the meantime, let me know in the comments, what brings you to the coffee shop?
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