Stockton Graham & Co. publishes two biweekly newsletters, Stockton's Souvenirs and Graham's Gazette. The Gazette contains articles written with coffee retailers in mind. I'll post some of my work for the Gazette to this blog. If you like what you see, sign up for our mailing list!

You may have noticed that fewer customers are visiting your shop, and those who are still coming may be spending less. Many people are trying to save more money, and cutting out unnecessary expenses is the first step in saving. That's bad news for luxury items, but specialty coffee is a relatively low-cost indulgence that probably won't be the first thing consumers give up.

The key to retaining their business is giving them a lot of value for their money. The further a consumer's dollar can go at your shop, the more likely he is to spend it there. Below are some tips for making your customers feel like they’re getting the most for their money.

  1. Don't skimp on the good stuff. You're probably looking to cut your own costs, but make sure you aren't cutting quality. It's tempting to use cheap chocolate sauce in your mochas to save a few cents per drink, but your customers might taste the difference. If they're accustomed to getting cane sugar for $3.25, they probably won’t pay the same for high-fructose corn syrup. You could miss out on profits due to lost sales.
  2. Encourage habitual buying. Regular customers mean regular income, and they tend to bring friends and family. Reward loyalty with targeted discounts. Discounted mug refills work well with morning commuters. Percentage discounts on larger orders encourage groups. Policies like these create incentives to continue visiting your shop.
  3. Throw in low-cost extras. A dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of a drink can add a lot to a drink's appeal and consequently its value. Offering a free cup of drip with the purchase of a pound of whole-bean coffee would cost you very little, but to the customer, it adds another $1.50 in value to a $14.00 purchase, and that can make a huge difference in his buying decision.

If you have any questions about operating a retail coffee business, feel free to send them to

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