In the beginning phases of opening a shop in a southern North Carolina. Coastal seasonal beach town on the beach. Would like to hear some thoughts as my brother and I are completely new to the business.

The beach has about 1000 permanent residence, during the summer this number surges to 25k people who stay for week long segments. This surge of people is from early june to late august and the shoulder seasons have some traffic as well. Due to the nature of hurricanes all of the single family dwellings (90% single family 10% condos) are raised on pilings. Half of commercial business are raised. Meaning the first floor is up one flight of stairs(10-12 feet). Our location will be raised on pilings.

The closest place to get coffee is off of the barrier island about one mile 3-5 minute drive away. The beverages they serve are of low quality and has no seating.

On the beach there are 4 sit down restaurants, 3 ice cream parlors, 2 made to order burger n fries joints.

There seems to be a void in coffee/pastry smoothie Togo sandwich market. Having passion for coffee we would ultimately like to do just that.

Being the middle of the summer when we will do 80% of our business I don't know how coffee will sell. 85-90 temperatures regularly.

Any thoughts and concerns are appreciated. Spent about 6 Hours reading through threads and seems you all have much experience.

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Check us out on tripadvisor, heck... Come on up the mountain and drop in, check us out and we can talk shop. Good luck.
Ps. Jay, that is spot on!

Like I said previously, it really is about you and what you deem a worthy investment and manageable risk. Take your time and really hammer out your numbers. If you have the resources and the time, go work for someone in the industry whose standards are similar to your own. Learn how to operate the business. You really cannot be too prepared. So many operators fail because they're unprepared and under-capitalized.

Is 2% fairly standard? Maybe it's a bit optimistic. I took a look at our transactions from yesterday and compared them to the demographic count of the neighborhood and we pulled 1.67% of our neighborhood population, so it's going to be close - and we're in a neighborhood where there is a variety of competitors.

One thing to remember: don't fall in love. Meaning don't allow yourself to be so enamored with an idea that you'll do it at any cost - it will be tremendously costly if you do. No deal is "too good" to pass on. It has to make sense and don't get caught up in trying to find all the positives to convince you and others. If you have to do that, then it's almost guaranteed to be riddled with problems.

Good Luck!

In addition to the great points Jay has brought up I'd like to reiterate the importance of getting some experience working in the business before opening a type of business you've never worked in. Myself and a business partner purchased an existing location 6 years ago just this November 1st past. We both loved coffee. We both had experience home roasting but not roasting professionally. We both had a lot of home brewing experience various methods including espresso. However only I had any experience all be it only a few months professional barista experience as well as a number years fully managing a small business (which is a far cry different than the burdens of ownership). After 5 months at the end of a bar shift one day my original partner said "I quit, I'm tired of being a janitor" and walked out the door never to set foot back in or lift a finger in anyway to build the business. Guess what, a BIG part of running any coffeehouse is cleaning, continuous cleaning! Yeah I'm "The Head Bean" (says so on my business card) and yeah I do dishes too. There isn't a single thing I ask of any employee that I won't and haven't done myself.


I perservered. I was willing to do whatever it takes, period, no excuses. A couple years later found a new minority partner who is a much better "front man" than me and today the business is thriving. Actually the past 2 years almost unbelievable greater than 100% per year growth rate which continues with October closing 11% over September and November showing signs of the trend continuing.


BUT, back in December 2009 the month after the big stock market crashed the only thing that kept the doors open was me putting ~$2k on my last remaining credit cards to make payroll. AND my house went into default to keep the business running during the depression while I watched countless other doors close forever. Which is to say don't plan on living off the business for at least a year or 2 or even longer. If it's able to pay you sooner great, but be planning on living off personal reserves for a good spell just in case.



Agreed. I operated on a second floor for two years. It was awful. We where always referred to as the place above this other place.bvisibility was poor. Whatever your business is on top of, you will be known for the other business. Better hope its not a scuzzy bar. I don't know though. It may be different for a community it's that lives on stilts. But I still say, despite the risk of a washout,you will do better on ground level

Jay Caragay said:

I don't operate in a resort area so I don't much insight into that. But 2nd Floor?  Abandon that location and treat it like the plague. You'll waste your money and kill your business.

Look for a suitable location that is ground level with great visibility and lots of walk-by traffic and easy parking. It might cost you more but it will be worth it.

Ice cream sales and coffee are very different. While it is true that ice cream will sell year round, coffee will indefinitely sell year round ata much stronger rate. Do not underestimate the power of coffee. Once coffee becomes a love of the community, you will easily see continuous growth for years to come.

Atlantictradegroup said:
Wow jay. This is all very helpful. I have attempted to conjure up a formula based on entering a market that hasn't been tapped by using ice cream consumption trends vs coffee and the level of ice cream consumption here. Pretty far fetched that it will be of much relevance.
The floor is the first accessible floor but up a set of stairs.
Is a capture rate of 2% fairly standard?

Experience is empty but I along with my brother own a customer service based business and have the next 6 months nearly free to work on our concept and plan to put in force.

The financial resources are there and we are excited at this point. Who knows how long the fire will be there.

Check out Tower 7 / Cafe Del Mar in Wrightsville, which used to be separate businesses, but now have the same owner. The cafe is pretty busy every morning during the summer. They make a lot of espresso shakes later in the day as well as a host of other cold drinks.

Also, Port City Java, just off the beach seems to do well too, but it's more of a business crowd than beach crowd.

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