Thursday, November 30, 2006

Should I open my own coffee shop, or just flush $20 bills down the toilet for the next few years?

I found a fantastic article on today which pokes holes in every faux artistic type's fantasy business -- owning their own quaint little neighbourhood coffee shop.

I have the utmost respect for entrepreneurs. It's a mindset that I sadly just don't have, but one I admire immensely in others. Owning your own business is a brave thing to do no matter what you're selling. But as the article points out, with low profit margins, a hectic workload and high costs, a coffee shop might be the worst or all. Yet, so many people are lulled into the romantic mystique of a quiet, satisfying life as a coffee-shop owner.

Not that I ever flirted with the idea of opening one myself, but I do fondly recall wiling away the hours during my unversity days, sipping back cappucino's and chai teas in the popular independent coffee shop just off campus. I'd go in mid-morning, grab a $1.20 medium coffee and nurse it for an hour while I read and waited for class. Then I'd come back in the afternoon and relax for a few hours with new-found friends until dinner with a $2 chai latte.

Imagine my surprise when the place went bankrupt just a few months later. Apparently it's hard to make a profit off of notoriously poor and stingy university students when they sit in your business for an average of 2 hours a day, taking up seats other people might have used, all in exchange for about $3.

My favourite part of the article:

The house brew too cold to be sold for $1 a cup was chilled further and reborn at $2.50 a cup as iced coffee, a drink whose appeal I do not even pretend to grasp.

Sounds very familiar. Top-notch writing once again from Slate magazine.

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