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Date: 02 Apr 2007 19:25:36
From: North Sullivan
Subject: Hobby to Business
In June, I'll have been operating my roastery/coffeeshop for four
years.

With fifteen months left on my lease, I'm unsure about what the future
holds. The coffee market has become quite crowded in my little town
of about 2500 people. Some folks from another state have started a
new coffeeshop at the other end of town Deep pockets, and little
coffee sense. So far, it hasn't hurt business, but it has been
frustrating. If they were any good at all, it would drive me out of
business. The small pie simply can't be divided. I'm nervous about
whatever crumbs I lose to people trying the other place out, which I
know is just basic human nature. Amazingly, another coffeeshop is
slated to open in the same town later this year; however, those plans
are on hold, since she did not know that the second shop would be
opening.

She's not a coffee person either, but "always wanted to open a
coffeeshop." People are nuts.

The old Diedrich is still chugging along. And the wholesale business
continues to expand. New retail outlets in other near-by towns have
made the continued growth possible. Since the other place doesn't
roast, that does give me a significant advantage and source of
revenue.

Still, in the final analysis, this may be my last year professionally
roasting. The time necessary to keep the business afloat has been a
strain on the family. I work 60 hour/weeks. While we've made a
profit every year except for the first partial year, the financial
renumeration is quite modest. My kids want me to be able to go on
vacation with them and get them up in the morning for breakfast.
Those are the kind of little things that aren't currently possible for
me. Staffing is always problematic, and business always noticeably
drops off when I take any significant time away.

The other reality is that the current/ new owners of my building
probably have other plans for my space; I've not been able to get any
terms for a lease extension, and rumors fly. Alternative sites in
town would require a build-out investment, which the demographics/new
competitive market probably doesn't justify. Relocating to a different
town isn't a viable option for both economic and family
considerations.

Despite these multi-faceted considerations, I continue living the
dream, enjoying every time I get to fire up the Diedrich and knowing
the time I have left in the business may be limited. It's been a fun
ride, and if this is my last year, I'm going to go down shooting,
pulling quad short shot lattes down to the very last day. There will
be no regrets. Just crema flowing like honey, whether it's business
or hobby again.

North Sullivan




 
Date: 04 Apr 2007 15:56:54
From: Gus
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
> With fifteen months left on my lease, I'm unsure about what the future
> holds.

When I think back to the awful food that was pretty standard in shops when I
was a kid and how people's pallettes and preferences have become more
refined, it makes me hope that you'll last it out.
Hopefully you'll manage to pull off what one fiesty little pie shop did here
in Australia. Meat pies here are an institution, but the McDonalds
juggernaut isn't to be taken lightly. When a McDonalds moved into a local
area the local pie shop was put on a death watch. Then my father-in-law
proudly sent me a newspaper article chronicling the rise and fall...of the
McDonalds. The pie shop drove them out of business. I'll cross my fingers.

Gus




 
Date: 03 Apr 2007 09:57:28
From: JoeP
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
I say: "Stick and stay and make it pay" If you outlast the competition
you'll be the last man standing, they are just as worried about you
when starting up and you have the advantage of knowing what your
customers like. I wouldn't switch to wholesale either, you could pick
up wholesale accounts here and there to offset any losses from your
normal buisness. Eventually the best coffee house that can reasonably
be supported will be left and most likely that would be you, possibly
you could get an us against them type of pride from your customers.
Its up to them to provide a better product at a better price. If your
landlord offers a new lease ask for a extension option so that when
your lease comes due again you can exercise the option usually for an
additional 5-10 years.


Joe
www.greencoffeebuyingclub.com
"freinds getting together and splitting bags of coffee"




 
Date: 03 Apr 2007 05:25:49
From: Danny
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
North Sullivan wrote:
> In June, I'll have been operating my roastery/coffeeshop for four
> years.
>
> With fifteen months left on my lease, I'm unsure about what the future
> holds. The coffee market has become quite crowded in my little town
> of about 2500 people. Some folks from another state have started a
> new coffeeshop at the other end of town Deep pockets, and little
> coffee sense. So far, it hasn't hurt business, but it has been
> frustrating. If they were any good at all, it would drive me out of
> business. The small pie simply can't be divided. I'm nervous about
> whatever crumbs I lose to people trying the other place out, which I
> know is just basic human nature. Amazingly, another coffeeshop is
> slated to open in the same town later this year; however, those plans
> are on hold, since she did not know that the second shop would be
> opening.
>
> She's not a coffee person either, but "always wanted to open a
> coffeeshop." People are nuts.
>
> The old Diedrich is still chugging along. And the wholesale business
> continues to expand. New retail outlets in other near-by towns have
> made the continued growth possible. Since the other place doesn't
> roast, that does give me a significant advantage and source of
> revenue.
>
> Still, in the final analysis, this may be my last year professionally
> roasting. The time necessary to keep the business afloat has been a
> strain on the family. I work 60 hour/weeks. While we've made a
> profit every year except for the first partial year, the financial
> renumeration is quite modest. My kids want me to be able to go on
> vacation with them and get them up in the morning for breakfast.
> Those are the kind of little things that aren't currently possible for
> me. Staffing is always problematic, and business always noticeably
> drops off when I take any significant time away.
>
> The other reality is that the current/ new owners of my building
> probably have other plans for my space; I've not been able to get any
> terms for a lease extension, and rumors fly. Alternative sites in
> town would require a build-out investment, which the demographics/new
> competitive market probably doesn't justify. Relocating to a different
> town isn't a viable option for both economic and family
> considerations.
>
> Despite these multi-faceted considerations, I continue living the
> dream, enjoying every time I get to fire up the Diedrich and knowing
> the time I have left in the business may be limited. It's been a fun
> ride, and if this is my last year, I'm going to go down shooting,
> pulling quad short shot lattes down to the very last day. There will
> be no regrets. Just crema flowing like honey, whether it's business
> or hobby again.
>
> North Sullivan

I feel another sitting in a field episode coming on - I have many of
your problems, especially staffing (may not have any next week!) and
there is a massive plan to redevelop the city centre within two years.
The market is moving further out of the town centre and my spot
becomes private land for a developer....

I too have never missed a week, but at least my important days are the
market days, which I never take off, but that leaves 3 days that I
don't mind occasionally missing in the winter, so I have taken a three
day break twice in five years.

Good luck :)

--
Regards, Danny

http://www.gaggia-espresso.com (a purely hobby site)
(apparently bad grammar but I like it that way...)



 
Date: 02 Apr 2007 21:53:57
From: Ken Fox
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
"North Sullivan" <northwrites@bluebottle.com > wrote in message
news:h8531313ibqa8dd9j4c9p5v4ttud1g8cal@4ax.com...
> In June, I'll have been operating my roastery/coffeeshop for four
> years.
>
> With fifteen months left on my lease, I'm unsure about what the future
> holds. >
> North Sullivan

You've had a great run, one that many of us have enjoyed vicariously.

One possibility would be to try the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em
approach with either one of your would be competitors, especially the one
who hasn't gotten into the business yet. The ultimate goal would be to end
up with one of the local places selling and using your beans, with you in a
separate roasting facility and not financially (or otherwise) tied to the
operator of the cafe. What you could offer that wannabee newcomer is to
move your business over to a new location that would actually be hers. For
a period of time you could work as her employee, as the front person, a
number of hours until she could get on her feet. This would include
training her and her staff. I am assuming her that she has some business
sense or could learn it. Ultimately you fade into the background with your
own roasting business, and a good local account also having the benefit of
showcasing your coffee. You could even give her some finanacial interest in
how much she sells for you and how much new wholesale business she might be
able to send your way.

She ends up with your retail customers and you end up with further promotion
of your roasting operation.

ken




  
Date: 04 Apr 2007 14:09:42
From: North Sullivan
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
On Mon, 2 Apr 2007 21:53:57 -0600, "Ken Fox"
<morceaudemerdeSnipThis@hotmail.com > wrote:

>"North Sullivan" <northwrites@bluebottle.com> wrote in message
>news:h8531313ibqa8dd9j4c9p5v4ttud1g8cal@4ax.com...
>> In June, I'll have been operating my roastery/coffeeshop for four
>> years.
>>
>> With fifteen months left on my lease, I'm unsure about what the future
>> holds. >
>> North Sullivan
>
>You've had a great run, one that many of us have enjoyed vicariously.

It has been a good run. Whatever happens, I'll have no regrets about
the past few years.
>
>One possibility would be to try the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em
>approach with either one of your would be competitors, especially the one
>who hasn't gotten into the business yet. The ultimate goal would be to end
>up with one of the local places selling and using your beans, with you in a
>separate roasting facility and not financially (or otherwise) tied to the
>operator of the cafe. What you could offer that wannabee newcomer is to
>move your business over to a new location that would actually be hers. For
>a period of time you could work as her employee, as the front person, a
>number of hours until she could get on her feet. This would include
>training her and her staff. I am assuming her that she has some business
>sense or could learn it. Ultimately you fade into the background with your
>own roasting business, and a good local account also having the benefit of
>showcasing your coffee. You could even give her some finanacial interest in
>how much she sells for you and how much new wholesale business she might be
>able to send your way.

That's a very good thought, and we did travel down that road together
during exploratory discussions. Unfortunately, she is like
fingernails on the chalkboard for me, and that pretty much kills any
incentive to train her. There are several other possibilities for
people who would like to take it over. Time may open up other
opportunities.

I do like Barry's idea about setting up the roaster in a small space
for wholesale. As much as I'd like to only consider the coffee
aspects in the strategic planning, I do have to consider my family.
Wholesale roasting would allow me that flexibility to spend more time
with family, which to be honest, does not depend upon my coffee income
to pay the bills. They would rather have my time than that modest
income. The coffee business is a selfish pleasure for me, although
the community receives a benefit also.

Hey, the worst thing that can happen is that I become a homeroaster
again. And I was pretty happy back then. :-)

North Sullivan


   
Date: 05 Apr 2007 15:45:07
From: Espressopithecus (Java Man)
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
In article <b2t713194ik4hkb2kv04h744bj6qenkc74@4ax.com >,
northwrites@bluebottle.com says...
> As much as I'd like to only consider the coffee
> aspects in the strategic planning, I do have to consider my family.
>
Every worthwhile strategic plan starts with a clear statement of the
shareholders' objectives.

Rick


   
Date: 04 Apr 2007 23:02:34
From: Barry Jarrett
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
On Wed, 04 Apr 2007 14:09:42 -0500, North Sullivan
<northwrites@bluebottle.com > wrote:

>I do like Barry's idea about setting up the roaster in a small space
>for wholesale. As much as I'd like to only consider the coffee
>aspects in the strategic planning, I do have to consider my family.
>Wholesale roasting would allow me that flexibility to spend more time
>with family, which to be honest, does not depend upon my coffee income
>to pay the bills. They would rather have my time than that modest
>income. The coffee business is a selfish pleasure for me, although
>the community receives a benefit also.
>

and, of course, you'd need to have your espresso machine set up at the
roastery, and some pourover cones, perhaps, for tasting your coffees,
and provided you did all this in a manner which was satisfactory with
your healt dept, then who's to say you couldn't serve/sell a drink or
three whilst you're roasting? put the retail aspect on your own
terms, and do what you want, when you want it.



    
Date:
From:
Subject:


 
Date: 02 Apr 2007 20:40:53
From: jim schulman
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
On Mon, 02 Apr 2007 19:25:36 -0500, North Sullivan
<northwrites@bluebottle.com > wrote:

>In June, I'll have been operating my roastery/coffeeshop for four
>years.
>
> ... Some folks from another state have started a
>new coffeeshop at the other end of town Deep pockets, and little
>coffee sense. ...
> ... Amazingly, another coffeeshop is
>slated to open in the same town later this year ...

You must be doing something right if you have that many imitators.
Come to think of it, your espresso roast was very tasty.


 
Date: 03 Apr 2007 01:30:15
From: The Other Funk
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
Finding the keyboard operational
North Sullivan entered:

> In June, I'll have been operating my roastery/coffeeshop for four
> years.
>
> With fifteen months left on my lease, I'm unsure about what the future
> holds. The coffee market has become quite crowded in my little town
> of about 2500 people. Some folks from another state have started a
> new coffeeshop at the other end of town Deep pockets, and little
> coffee sense. So far, it hasn't hurt business, but it has been
> frustrating. If they were any good at all, it would drive me out of
> business. The small pie simply can't be divided. I'm nervous about
> whatever crumbs I lose to people trying the other place out, which I
> know is just basic human nature. Amazingly, another coffeeshop is
> slated to open in the same town later this year; however, those plans
> are on hold, since she did not know that the second shop would be
> opening.
>
> She's not a coffee person either, but "always wanted to open a
> coffeeshop." People are nuts.
>
> The old Diedrich is still chugging along. And the wholesale business
> continues to expand. New retail outlets in other near-by towns have
> made the continued growth possible. Since the other place doesn't
> roast, that does give me a significant advantage and source of
> revenue.
>
> Still, in the final analysis, this may be my last year professionally
> roasting. The time necessary to keep the business afloat has been a
> strain on the family. I work 60 hour/weeks. While we've made a
> profit every year except for the first partial year, the financial
> renumeration is quite modest. My kids want me to be able to go on
> vacation with them and get them up in the morning for breakfast.
> Those are the kind of little things that aren't currently possible for
> me. Staffing is always problematic, and business always noticeably
> drops off when I take any significant time away.
>
> The other reality is that the current/ new owners of my building
> probably have other plans for my space; I've not been able to get any
> terms for a lease extension, and rumors fly. Alternative sites in
> town would require a build-out investment, which the demographics/new
> competitive market probably doesn't justify. Relocating to a different
> town isn't a viable option for both economic and family
> considerations.
>
> Despite these multi-faceted considerations, I continue living the
> dream, enjoying every time I get to fire up the Diedrich and knowing
> the time I have left in the business may be limited. It's been a fun
> ride, and if this is my last year, I'm going to go down shooting,
> pulling quad short shot lattes down to the very last day. There will
> be no regrets. Just crema flowing like honey, whether it's business
> or hobby again.
>
> North Sullivan

We're about where you are and honestly, some days we do want to throw in the
towel. If I still drank, the staffing problems alone would be a 3 day
bender.
About 15 months ago another coffee shop opened 4 blocks away and everyone
was saying that the town couldn't support the 2 of us. I remember saying " I
hope they are bringing their A game 'cause I'm not leaving". They're gone
and I still put in a minimum of 60 hours a week. But after spending half my
life answering to someone who answers to someone who answers to someone,
it's really nice to be driving the boat. So set your course and hoist the
'Jolly Rodger'. Don't let anyone force you into anything.
Bob

--
--
Coffee worth staying up for - NY Times
www.moondoggiecoffee.com



 
Date: 03 Apr 2007 00:46:29
From: Barry Jarrett
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
On Mon, 02 Apr 2007 19:25:36 -0500, North Sullivan
<northwrites@bluebottle.com > wrote:

>The old Diedrich is still chugging along. And the wholesale business
>continues to expand. New retail outlets in other near-by towns have
>made the continued growth possible. Since the other place doesn't
>roast, that does give me a significant advantage and source of
>revenue.

there is your answer: go wholesale.

you can set your own roasting times and you probably won't need any
staff. buildout for roasting space is minimal.



  
Date: 03 Apr 2007 02:02:55
From: Marshall
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
On Tue, 03 Apr 2007 00:46:29 GMT, Barry Jarrett
<barry@rileys-coffee.com > wrote:

>On Mon, 02 Apr 2007 19:25:36 -0500, North Sullivan
><northwrites@bluebottle.com> wrote:
>
> >The old Diedrich is still chugging along. And the wholesale business
> >continues to expand. New retail outlets in other near-by towns have
> >made the continued growth possible. Since the other place doesn't
> >roast, that does give me a significant advantage and source of
> >revenue.
>
>there is your answer: go wholesale.
>
>you can set your own roasting times and you probably won't need any
>staff. buildout for roasting space is minimal.

Wholesaling coffee is a different skill/personality set, isn't it? You
have to love selling and hit the road or be able to hire someone who
does.

Marshall "has coffee wholesaler friends"


   
Date: 02 Apr 2007 21:37:20
From: North Sullivan
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
On Tue, 03 Apr 2007 02:02:55 GMT, Marshall
<mrfuss@ihatespamearthlink.net > wrote:


>Wholesaling coffee is a different skill/personality set, isn't it? You
>have to love selling and hit the road or be able to hire someone who
>does.
>
>Marshall "has coffee wholesaler friends"

It is. Having a busy coffeeshop and bags of beans flying off the
shelves during rush periods helps to sell wholesale accounts. I
picked up a new wholesale account today who watched me sell six
pounds of coffee to a retail customer who was joking with the guy that
he would be in late this afternoon when he ran out of coffee.

The key for me would be to spread out geographically with both
wholesale customers who brew the coffee for customers (bars and
bed/breakfasts, mainly), and other businesses who sell the bags of
beans (gift stores, specialty grocers). So far, I've been very
passive about that, letting the coffee sell itself through word of
mouth. I'd have to get more aggressive about selling. I've never
been willing to play the game to provide free/discounted equipment in
exchange for coffee contracts. That, in and of itself, limits the
opportunities. On the other hand, my wholesale accounts who have
purchased their own equipment have bought into my philosophy, and
everyone who has climbed on board has stayed with me.

I will say that I would miss the retail coffeeshop, which is where I
have made a lot of friends and relationships in the community. That's
been and continues to be a blast. I know most of my customers by name
and drink. Frequently, the drink is made by the time they get to the
counter because I recognize the car that they drive as they parallel
park. :-) Life is a serious of compromises, along with weighing
and balancing values. I'm sure it will all work out.

Ed, I think about your '70's coffeeshop often. It's part of why I
don't want to ever take this opportunity for granted. Jim, thanks for
your kind words about the espresso blend. I don't have any delusions
about my blending skills or even roasting skills. But I do pay close
attention to the fundamentals, and many people do notice the
difference.

Funk, I still drink, and while I don't go on benders, I'm certain that
my consumption is higher than if I didn't have the most amazing staff
issues. Young people get themselves into more problems and
complicated situations than I'd ever dreamed of running into. I'm not
their parent and can't be their friend, but I feel for their parents
and wish they had better friends. I do what I can do and hope they
grow into responsible older adults.

Heading off to bed. Tomorrow is a new day.

North Sullivan




    
Date: 05 Apr 2007 19:48:30
From: Brent
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
North,

sounds like slowly building up a wholesale operation that works around you
is the go, and as Barry suggested, if a few poeple know where you are and
call in for a coffee while you are there, then that is the best of both
worlds?

I know we closed our cafe to concentrate on the roasting, because in our
case there weren't enough locals to support a cafe, and we wanted to spend
the money we would otherwise have spent on the cafe on roasting stuff... I
don't regret that move, even if the locals who never came in do.

We don't have a huge amount of wholesale accounts, but the ones we do are
good accounts to have, and we add more slowly - I still have the day job to
support the night job :) we do have a large number of home and small office
accounts, and the numbers are growing steadily. I think if you decide on
what it is you want, then it is easier to grow that part of the business.
Certainly that has been the case for us.

Brent


>
>>Wholesaling coffee is a different skill/personality set, isn't it? You
>>have to love selling and hit the road or be able to hire someone who
>>does.
>>
>>Marshall "has coffee wholesaler friends"
>
> It is. Having a busy coffeeshop and bags of beans flying off the
> shelves during rush periods helps to sell wholesale accounts. I
> picked up a new wholesale account today who watched me sell six
> pounds of coffee to a retail customer who was joking with the guy that
> he would be in late this afternoon when he ran out of coffee.
>
> The key for me would be to spread out geographically with both
> wholesale customers who brew the coffee for customers (bars and
> bed/breakfasts, mainly), and other businesses who sell the bags of
> beans (gift stores, specialty grocers). So far, I've been very
> passive about that, letting the coffee sell itself through word of
> mouth. I'd have to get more aggressive about selling. I've never
> been willing to play the game to provide free/discounted equipment in
> exchange for coffee contracts. That, in and of itself, limits the
> opportunities. On the other hand, my wholesale accounts who have
> purchased their own equipment have bought into my philosophy, and
> everyone who has climbed on board has stayed with me.
>
> I will say that I would miss the retail coffeeshop, which is where I
> have made a lot of friends and relationships in the community. That's
> been and continues to be a blast. I know most of my customers by name
> and drink. Frequently, the drink is made by the time they get to the
> counter because I recognize the car that they drive as they parallel
> park. :-) Life is a serious of compromises, along with weighing
> and balancing values. I'm sure it will all work out.
>
> Ed, I think about your '70's coffeeshop often. It's part of why I
> don't want to ever take this opportunity for granted. Jim, thanks for
> your kind words about the espresso blend. I don't have any delusions
> about my blending skills or even roasting skills. But I do pay close
> attention to the fundamentals, and many people do notice the
> difference.
>
> Funk, I still drink, and while I don't go on benders, I'm certain that
> my consumption is higher than if I didn't have the most amazing staff
> issues. Young people get themselves into more problems and
> complicated situations than I'd ever dreamed of running into. I'm not
> their parent and can't be their friend, but I feel for their parents
> and wish they had better friends. I do what I can do and hope they
> grow into responsible older adults.
>
> Heading off to bed. Tomorrow is a new day.
>
> North Sullivan
>
>




  
Date: 02 Apr 2007 19:55:05
From: North Sullivan
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
On Tue, 03 Apr 2007 00:46:29 GMT, Barry Jarrett
<barry@rileys-coffee.com > wrote:

>
>there is your answer: go wholesale.
>
>you can set your own roasting times and you probably won't need any
>staff. buildout for roasting space is minimal.

I've been giving that careful consideration, and that may be where my
road will lead. My wife isn't too keen about the idea of putting the
Diedrich in the garage for personal roasting consumption. :-)


North Sullivan



 
Date: 02 Apr 2007 20:34:01
From: Ed Needham
Subject: Re: Hobby to Business
It's not about whether life will bring you ups and downs. It's about how
many times you get back up.

I gave up my coffeehouse back in the seventies because of the long
hours/unpredictable meager income and an engagement to be married.
Sometimes I wish I had kept the coffeehouse. I'd still have it. That wife
is long gone. :::::::grin:::::::::

I may still do it again in a few years. We'll see. I can't seem to get
there from here though.
--
*********************
Ed Needham®
"to absurdity and beyond!"
http://www.homeroaster.com
(include [FRIEND] in subject line to get through my SPAM filters)
*********************

"North Sullivan" wrote in message
news:h8531313ibqa8dd9j4c9p5v4ttud1g8cal@4ax.com...
> In June, I'll have been operating my roastery/coffeeshop for four
> years.
<SNIP >
> Despite these multi-faceted considerations, I continue living the
> dream, enjoying every time I get to fire up the Diedrich and knowing
> the time I have left in the business may be limited. It's been a fun
> ride, and if this is my last year, I'm going to go down shooting,
> pulling quad short shot lattes down to the very last day. There will
> be no regrets. Just crema flowing like honey, whether it's business
> or hobby again.
>
> North Sullivan