Developing a Different Business Model

There was an article in the Strib South Section today that caught my attention. The topic was about coffeehouses “south of the river”.

The article compares independently owned coffeehouses with large chains, or “corporate coffee giants”, and the independents’ efforts to survive in this competitive environment. It’s not always easy, Lakeville lost its three independent coffee shops after Caribou and Starbucks came to the city.

According to the author, the independents compete by “developing a niche”, like live music or a sandwich menu, and being able to quickly respond to customer requests. Some business professor at some college up in the cities sees such tactics as indicating “a coffeehouse about to go out of business”.

I guess I see it differently.

To me, it would appear that the independent coffeehouses are following a different business model. Unable to compete with massive parking lots, massive corporate coffers and massive advertising campaigns, they focus on the little things, like a welcoming atmosphere, homemade baked goods and listening to their customers.

I’d call it a community-based model as opposed to a corporate-based model. As the owner of one independent said, “It’s a different ambiance. Everybody knows everybody, and everybody chats”.

Sound familiar? Perhaps that’s because there are several delightful examples of this community-based model…in Downtown Northfield.