How a small struggling store was transformed by the addition of coffee. Vacation Rental’s Expert Consulting Services

 My friend’s father owned a specialized store tucked away from busy streets, and its performance was less than satisfactory. The shop dealt with products crafted from different minerals and themed books.  

 To his credit, he tried several changes in an attempt to attract more customers, including altering the displays and introducing varied promotions. By the time I learned of this situation over a casual coffee chat with my friend, her father had already contemplated downsizing the store by relocating or even shutting it down entirely. 

How a small struggling store was transformed by the addition of coffee. Vacation Rental’s Expert Consulting Services

 Such a decision would have meant substantial losses due to the considerable inventory on hand.

 We continued drinking coffee and engaged in discussions about potential strategies to save the business from bankruptcy. Back then, I wasn’t consulting on business improvements yet, and even later the store owners weren’t my primary clients. 

 Nonetheless, I agreed to visit the store that evening to check its setup. 

  The store, situated in a semi-basement of modest dimensions, was filled with an array of items. Each shelf and display surface was drowning in merchandise. It soon became evident that there was no dedicated storage space, necessitating the utilization of every available inch within the store.    

How a small struggling store was transformed by the addition of coffee. Vacation Rental’s Expert Consulting Services

 Following my brief visit, I stepped outside and noticed a vacant floor space above the store that was up for rent. 

 Although I didn’t immediately attach significance to this observation, it registered as a mental note. I promised my friend that I would brainstorm ideas to improve her father’s sales. Drawing from my years of experience in flagship branded stores, I possessed some insights into retail.

 After several days of intense thinking, my suggestions for the store mainly revolved around surface-level improvements. One such proposal involved paring down the product inventory, even if it required storing surplus items elsewhere. 

 This reduction would allow for a focus on highlighting best-selling items through elegant displays, avoiding clutter that might obscure their prominence. My concept leaned toward an approach reminiscent of luxury stores, where the design of the space holds equal importance to the products themselves. 

 A well-placed item, showcased under focused lighting, instantly assumes a heightened perception of value. 

  However, I was aware that these aesthetic changes would only scratch the surface; without increased foot traffic, the allure of a beautiful window display wouldn’t generate substantial revenue growth. 

 Locations remain a main factor for all types of stores, a principle underscored by the prime placements of the stores I had previously worked for—nestled in the heart of bustling shopping districts, where consumers were predisposed to spend.  

How a small struggling store was transformed by the addition of coffee. Vacation Rental’s Expert Consulting Services

 One day, while in search of my daily coffee, I stumbled upon an unexplored coffee shop. The aroma was inviting, the chatter lively — a clear indication of its popularity. 

As I approached the counter and asked for a flat white, the barista flashed a friendly smile and offered, “You can head upstairs, and we’ll bring your coffee.”

Startled by the unexpected proposition, I inquired, “Upstairs? I didn’t even realize there was an upper level.”

The barista chuckled “Oh yeah, the stairs are a bit hidden, tucked away near the bathroom.”

Intrigued by the prospect, I went up the concealed staircase. At the top, I was greeted by a spacious square room with benches lining the windows, providing an inviting view of the outside world. This unexpected find was like uncovering a secret sanctuary within the bustling coffee shop. A serene setting where customers leisurely enjoyed their drinks while watching the world go by. 

 The contrast between this quiet retreat and the bustling activity below triggered a eureka moment. The mental note about the available space above the struggling store resurfaced. Recognizing the potential to create a more intimate shopping environment and connect the store to the coffee shop, I immediately phoned my friend, urging her father to inquire about the vacant space’s rental details. I assured them I would clarify everything upon my arrival.

How a small struggling store was transformed by the addition of coffee. Vacation Rental’s Expert Consulting Services

 To keep things brief, I’ll summarize what we did next dropping small details. We secured the upper floor at a reduced rate due to its prolonged vacancy. A rear courtyard led from the semi-basement to this new space, with an emergency exit staircase as a connection.

 We furnished the area with second-hand tables, unique chairs, and a compact coffee machine sourced from thrift stores. I instructed my friend in various coffee preparation techniques and gave her the title of head barista. 

 Using items they already had, we created an appealing and charming look. A personal vinyl player, linked to a pair of speakers at the bar area, set the mood. 

 In the main store, we decluttered, stowing about 70% of the stock in boxes on the upper floor, while artfully arranging the remaining items for display. Select books from the collection were offered to coffee shop visitors, enticing them to engage while enjoying their coffee.

Strategically, access to the coffee shop was exclusively through the main store, with the hope of encouraging incidental purchases. 

 Initial foot traffic was modest, necessitating the placement of a neon sign in a window facing the street to attract passersby. 

 Remarkably, the coffee shop’s success outshined the store itself, with the high profit margins of coffee compensating for the lower sales volume of the store. 

The plan worked! 

As the coffee shop customers enjoyed browsing magazines and themed books, the head barista invited them to check out the stones downstairs once they were finished which led to more sales.  

How a small struggling store was transformed by the addition of coffee. Vacation Rental’s Expert Consulting Services

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hindered this promising advancement. Although circumstances ultimately prevented us from pursuing the venture further, I share this story to underscore the potential benefits of strategic investments and to illuminate the genesis of my consulting enterprise. 

 The story highlights the importance of sharp insights, creative solutions, and wise investments in guiding a venture to success.

Conclusion

This was my first unpaid project, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Though it didn’t unfold as planned, the lessons we gained were invaluable. With the pandemic behind us, there’s a chance they might consider replicating it elsewhere.

As for me, I immersed myself completely in mastering all aspects of vacation rentals, and I’m eagerly anticipating the opportunity to share the insights I’ve acquired with you.

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