Friends don't bring friends to Starbucks

Thomas Bibby

 One of our customers in Cork, The Rocket Man, thriving despite the opening of a Starbucks next door

One of our customers in Cork, The Rocket Man, thriving despite the opening of a Starbucks next door

Here in Limerick there has been some chatter about how Limerick will no longer be a Starbucks-free zone with the opening of two outlets in the city.  It reminded me of a bumper sticker I saw in San Francisco when I was on a J1 summer visa many moons ago: “friends don’t bring friends to Starbucks”.

But why should we care?  Surely we’d like to sell Reg to chains like Starbucks as well?  Isn’t one coffee shop pretty much the same as another?

We designed Reg with pretty much one type of user in mind: the owner-managed independent retailer. Retailers like Starbucks have everything managed centrally.  In fact one of our aims with Reg was to put some of the powerful analytics tools available to big retailers in the hands of independents.

We’re lucky to count lots of independent coffee shops as our customers, and without exception they work tremendously hard to provide a great customer experience and good coffee.  Most importantly though they are products of the visions of their owners.  Quirky, interesting, engaging.  A complete contrast to the dull, designed-by-committee-in-head-office experience that you get from Starbucks and the other big coffee chains.

I’ve talked to some of our customers in Dublin and Cork about the challenges of running an independent coffee shop near a Starbucks and happily it is more than possible for independents to compete with the chains.  Enough people are realising that not only do you help the local economy by taking your business to independents, you get a better, more interesting experience as well.  And the coffee usually tastes better too!

(See also our previous blog article: why support your local coffee shop?)