Nov 26 2008
At the corner of Broadway Avenue and Manitoba, in the heart of Vancouver, there was a little cafe where no one ever came.
Well, not exactly no one. I went in a few times just to check out the place, since it was about two steps away from my building. I try to support local businesses. But it was always dark in there and either too hot or too cold. And no newspapers for me to read. The coffee was fine (really, it’s hard to mess up plain old coffee), but in Vancouver, the beverage is almost always a secondary concern for cafe patrons. I didn’t become a regular, even though it was so close.
I hardly ever saw anyone else go in there, either. I think it lasted about two years. Then it closed its doors for good sometime at the end of summer — I’m not really sure when. I’m sure not too many others were paying attention, either.
But my wife noticed a Starbucks sign on the empty building perhaps a month ago. The place re-opened yesterday. I haven’t gone in yet, but lots of people from my neighborhood clearly have. The brightly-lit place is absolutely packed whenever we go by, in the morning or the evening.
I’m not a big fan of Starbucks coffee, but I could see myself holding the odd meeting with one of my freelance clients in there. Which goes to show that being a local business will only take you so far when it comes to winning customer loyalty. If local businesses want MY business, that sometimes means their taking a cue from the big players. The big ones weren’t always big — they got successful because they were doing something right.
It pays to look at what the busy guy on the corner is up to.