Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coffee and Carbon

We are not a coffee shop.
We are not a bike shop.
We are a fusion of Caffeine and Adrenaline.

OK, so I don't really like the tag "adrenaline." Any suggestions are open.

But in any case, this is one tag I'm considering for my mentioned startup, should I fail to find a legitimate career upon graduation. And I've already made (hypothetical) strides:

1. I've recruited my current company's executive chef for the bakery..."It wouldn't take a lot to convince me."
2. I've got two leads to run the coffee storefront
3. I have a vision

Ok, so a vision doesn't necessarily mean much. but I'm excited anyway.

You walk into a standalone building (necessary for prominence, draw and space use). It's a coffee shop, square shaped or otherwise surrounded by a raised floor to the bike area. Picture a square, with a U on the outside. There is small seating tables to your left and right, with a traditional coffee set-up to the front of you. There will be scones, and there will be croissants.

Walk around to the back of that counter, and you have the bike maintenance area. It's open, with one counter for the register. To the back of the store is a bike fit area. Focus on product spotlights, rather than flooding the floor and going "look look! I have lots of bicycles!" This will require a larger inventory in the back, taking away from floor space, but that's OK.

Overall, it's a laid back, yet professional store. Don't ask me how that's going to exactly be pulled off.

Bicycle brands:
-High end: Parlee (maybe I'll sell one a year), Cervelo
-Work Horse: Specialized (amazing marketing dept., higher store-front support)
-Budget: Jamis
-Off the mark: insert non-normal fixie/SS bike brand, don't know which one.

Orange and Blue is a consideration, but is really exploding right now. Still, it's traditional Merckx. Red and Black is kewl, but way too devilish/evil for a shop. Pink is just...well, pink. Light green and off white is soothing, but can I push a bike sale looking at "Rainforest Mist" walls?

I'm thinking ultra-modern white and red, with off-red accents. Crisp, clean look, appealing, etc.

Market Feasibility:
Bike shops get killed by the internet discounters. Everyone knows this. The coffee segment of the shop will help with foot traffic, but there's no getting around the fact that the internet is the boon of all shop owners.

So, I'll join them. Probably closely follow the model of Speedgoat in PA, who offer competitive pricing, with a customizable, neighborhood atmosphere.

Not sure here. Even though this place is supposed to be a fusion, coffee-goers rarely intermingle with bikes. Bikers do love coffee, though.

As a local business, most will have to be word of mouth. I'd probably concentrate most efforts in community service, from a strategic standpoint and a community standpoint:
It leaves the company with a good image.
It's good for the community. duh.
It's cheap. (bike rodeos, local events, etc...mostly involves showing up)

Not Chester. With working with Charlie at RadSport, we had an awesome thing going. We had a solid foundation and customer base. We had margin. We were going up.

But while the market share was there...the market wasn't. Chester and the surrounding area is just too small.

So I'll go looking for a smaller portion of a bigger pie. Shoreline CT is an obvious possibility, but it's filled with old people in my immediate shoreline, not that many riders, and we've seen two shops can within a few years.

Closer to Hartford, while out of Hartford, the better. The 91 corridor is littered with shops, but the aspect of the coffee shop complicates it more...have to find a place that hits a lot of traffic, but isn't within a mile (1/2 mile?) of a DD or Starbucks.

Will it work? Beats me. Any suggestions? By all means, let me know.