Better Judgment, and the Flouting Thereof

So I wrote awhile back about our local coffee house closing down.  I entertained fantasies of taking it over, but mostly dismissed them as unrealistic.  Running a coffee shop is a dream of mine, but one that I had consigned to the hazy future sometime past retirement.

avivahg spoke the other day with the proprietress of a coffee house in York which has been building new locations like crazy.  She knew about JJ’s closing, and said she wasn’t sure if she was ready to open a location in our area, but asked if avivahg would be interested in running a franchise.  She also mentioned that she had heard that one of the two decent cafes remaining in Shrewsbury is closing.  Which means no more decent coffee within walking distance, but also no competition other than the new Starbucks.

So now I’m thinking about it again… and it still seems crazy.  I’m a geek, not an entrepreneur.  And the last thing I need is yet another draw on my meager time.  And yet… part of me wants to try to do it anyway.  I have freinds who would help, and I think I have some good ideas… but… what am I thinking?  I don’t know the first thing about running a business.  Neither of us does.  But then again…

I’ve always wanted to. 

I think we could successfully compete with Starsucks.  It’s a good location, and a beautiful room that is more spacious but still manages to be cozy.   Add wi-fi access, a solid schedule of good local music, and advertise like mad and I think we could eat their lunch.

If it works out, it might actually become a supplemental source of income.

It would be good karma.  This town needs a place to hang out on the weekends.

I’m terrified.  I dont know the first thing about running a real coffee house.  And although I know I enjoy working behind the scenes to make such a place work, it would involve a lot of things that are way outside my skillset – like dealing with people.

It would entail loans and other scary financial thingies.

I really don’t have time.  It would probably mean putting off any other significantly time-consuming plans like, say, getting my degreem, indefinitely.

What do you think, peoples?  Should I forget about this?  Is it just silly daydreaming?  Or should I take it seriously?  My better judgement says that I would regretgoing for it.  On the other hand, you only live once and all that.  What do you think?

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  1. Do you like coffee? Can you tell the difference between good and lousy coffee? more importantly, can you tell the difference between good and GREAT coffee???

    Do you have a dream?

    Do you mind sweating blood and tears?

    If you take no risks in life you find no rewards….bro. There is a helluva lot worse things than filing for bankruptancy or closing a business. Try forming it as an LLC or what not. Something so the business holds most of the liabilities….


    Second, put the business in Stacey’s name…(there are often tax deductions, etc that you get from such).

    1. Dude, I know coffee. That’s the easy part.

      1. You gotta a brain, you can strategize….

        If you or Stacey can manage a checkbook then you should be able to handle the management end.

        The rest is marketing, building a clientelle base, etc.

        In fact….

        Although i doubt you’d ever call it such, I could totally see myself buying coffee from a shop called “Avdi’s”

        1. another idea….not sure if this would actually work…

          but has anyone sold coffee popsicles?


          1. ROTFL…

            Avdi’s “Home of the coffee ice cube!”

          2. That’s nothing new, actually… coffee ice cubes are what you put in iced coffee if you don’t want it to get watered down as the ice melts.

        2. Stacey couldn’t manage a check book to save her life. That’s why Avdi handles all the finance stuff around here.

          It’s not that I can’t balance a checkbook, it’s more that I don’t and end up writing rubber checks.

  2. only if you guys carry the “sexual chocolate” drink that I used to have almost every day in college, sure i think it’s a great idea 🙂

  3. find out what this woman is willing to front to fix the place up right and start it out on track. you dont want to take this on and then not be able to make it look nice or really operate effectively.

    1. There’s not much more to be done other than re-branding it, really. It was a fully-functional, well-equipped coffee house until it closed a month or two ago. I have grand ideas about decoration and furnishing, true; but one could re-open it tomorrow and still have a respectable establishment, if one wanted to.

      1. why did it close?

        there is always some degree of fixup involved, and you still need money to run ads and make sure you can pay your employees, your supplies and bills during startup. if this woman is serious, she will cover that and provide some extra for fixup. if she won’t she probably intends to leave an undue amount of burden on you two.

        1. It closed because of an extended illness in the family that ran it.

          I haven’t spoken to her, but I suspect that she’s not going to be willing to front much money for it. She’s currently in the middle of a huge expansion, and the impression I get from ‘s description of the conversation is that she’s not ready to invest in another location right now, but if someone were interested in opening a franchise they are welcome to. I could be wrong, but apart from large national franchises isn’t that how it usually works?

          1. generally certain things are covered and the franchisee also invests, so that costs are shared in some prearranged division. if she’s in the middle of a huge expansion, then she has bucks to invest well beyond what youve described this location as needing and the added costs there should be relatively minute to her.

            if the only thing you’d gain, in a small town needing this facility anyway, is the use of her name, you might as well skip her and do it yourself.

          2. if the only thing you’d gain, in a small town needing this facility anyway, is the use of her name, you might as well skip her and do it yourself.

            Point taken. We’re going to meet with her son and find out what licensing would entail.

          3. We’re going to meet with her soon not her son. She doesn’t have a son and even if she did, he’d been way too young to do business wtih. 😉

  4. i agree – do it!

    talk to this woman a bit more, i’m sure she can give you the low down on what she would need done, and what she currently does to make her shops work.

    while it may be iffy while working your current day job, perhaps you can work it so that you only take on the financial-managing and decorating ideas, only actually working the shop on the weekends? and if stacey is into it as well, perhaps it would save her from some measly commute to a job she doesn’t really enjoy? maybe not even full time, since the kids are home, but as a filler?

    who knows, just ideas, but i say that if the opportunity is there, and you’ve thought about doing it before (as i’ve read that you have in the past) that you should at least give it some research and thinking about.

  5. GO FOR IT!

    go for it.

    i think you should do it.
    this sort of thing generally doesn’t fall into ones lap like its fallen into your lap.

    and if you wanted some assistance with ordering or initial set up or anything like that i can help you out…i’ve opened/managed 3 restaurants as either a sous chef or management and know the ins and outs of things like that…
    this is a great oppurtunity, i really think you should do it!

  6. If you do go through with this idea – I highly suggest on or both of you taking some type of management courses. Learn how to balance a store’s budget, how to order and maintain the proper stock of your goods, how to write a schedule for employees, etc.

    And if you do… GOOD LUCK !! Too bad it’s a bit far for me to come and visit.

    One last suggestion – have innovative and nummy decaf options on the menu for those of us who can’t have caffiene.

  7. I have to say that starting a new business is the most wonderful thing we have ever done. Yes its stressful, but it isn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. It seems much to great an opportunity to pass by. Weigh what would be the worst thing that could happen and plan for it as best you can. More than likely you will have found your dream come true and it will be a great success!

  8. If can run it for you while you work fulltime, I say you should go for it. Between the two of you I think you could make it happen and I would love to offer whatever support I can at this point.

    You only live once, and if you have the money to invest in it, you should give it a shot.

    1. and if you have the money to invest in it, you should give it a shot.

      There, as they say, is the rub. Doing it would depend on us being able to get some kind of small-business loan. They say there are special programs available if it’s in name, but on the other hand her credit is shot. Not to mention that the idea of being in further debt is rather unpalatable to me. So that, along with the time issue, is probably the biggest obstacle.

  9. you know coffee.
    Stacey knows baking.

    time to get one of those small business loans from the govt. and make it happen.
    Do you know any successful business people who can help you write up a business plan? I have heard that a good business plan will open many doors for you, and sitting down with an experienced mentor will do far better than years of business school.

    1. Not off the top of my head, unfortunately…

  10. Not to be the bad guy, but: weren’t you complaining of $$ problems a while back? They will only get worse with something like this, at least for a while.

    1. Yeah. I didn’t list that in the “cons” for some reason, but that’s probably my biggest obstacle. We’re doing better than we were then, but I’d prefer to be in a much better place before taking on something like this.

  11. Um… if it ever does get this far, I’ll work for you!!

    Can’t you just see me being one of the behind-the-counter coffee girls that always gets hit on? C’mon, you know you can.

  12. my overall ‘vote’

    fwiw i think one way or another you have to have an involved active third party.

    IF you can get someone with specific business experience (whether its this woman or someone else) who is going to actually join in investing in the venture and help out with business plans, loans, etc – do it.

    IF not – if this woman isnt going to do that and you have no alternatives in a third investor, i think it has too much risk and too great a drain on your time and resources and needs to wait.

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