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Great coffee shops are not special because they are independent…

–  James Hoffmann said in his recent article A Customer Conundrum – here.


Being independent is easy. Independent and good? That’s tougher.

Independent in Ballymena

We just had “Independents Day” in Ballymena on – yea you guessed it – the 4th July. It was billed as a day to celebrate local small independent business. One of the representatives from this initiative said the following;

The fact is that if we forget our town centre and village businesses, someday some of those well-established third and fourth generation businesses we all grew up with will close, not to re-open but instead leaving behind another empty shop.

That’s true.

But, what if some of those well established third and fourth generation businesses aren’t good any more? Maybe they once were great and special but now they are a bit lacklustre.

Frustration is often directed at the general public and, their alleged lack of support for small businesses and for not shopping locally. Maybe we need to be better at pointing out flaws in the businesses and organisations around our towns.

Are they good enough? Are they doing something special? Or maybe they’re just not up to scratch?

And coffee

Over the past two years coffee has been identified by lots of savvy people as a great business opportunity. In Ballymena we count around twenty ‘coffee shops’ in the town centre. Some are well-established, others are new. There are a variety of standards on display, from amazing to terrible and, we predict more will open.

But in business it’s not enough to be well-established, old, new, independent or on trend. These labels only get you so far.

Being independent doesn’t give you the right to success or support from your community. Being well-established doesn’t give you the right to continued success. Being a third or fourth generation business doesn’t give you the right to be a fifth and sixth generation business.

You have to be good to build something really special that lasts and grows and evolves…

Focus on being good.