We’re all familiar with the smells and sights of a bustling coffee shop: the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee, the sound of milk steaming for lattes and cappuccinos, and the people shuffling about having conversations with their baristas and colleagues. But what if you walked into a shop and heard a bike technician testing the bell on a new bike or the sound of duct tape being pulled away from the roll?
A coffee shop doesn’t just have to serve coffee. Some businesses offer more than just lattes and pastries, serving as drop off points for community-supported agriculture (CSA) boxes, doubling as bike repair spots, or lining the walls with books for purchase. Many businesses are taking their coffee experience to the next level by offering additional services, and it’s paying off—literally—by driving in foot traffic and giving patrons more than one reason to visit.
From maximizing resources to creating new revenue streams, coffee shops are finding innovative ways to grow their businesses. By broadening their services, coffee shops can increase customer loyalty and keep people coming back for more than just coffee. With a little bit of creativity and some out-of-the-box thinking, your shop can stand out in the crowd and offer something unique and special to your customers.
Pick Up A Coffee, Drop Off A Package
In Danville, Pennsylvania, Java Momma roasts coffee and allows patrons to drop off return packages from Amazon, FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Wish. Visitors can pick up bags of coffee and use their shipping tools to process returns for items bought online.
Owners Melissa and Brian Shoop initially started Java Momma as an online business and opened their storefront to offer their products locally. They decided to add shipping services as a way to get people into the store. “We wanted to bring foot traffic into the shop to increase coffee sales and awareness of our business,” says Brian, “as well as have an additional revenue stream. It was also a greatly needed service, as it turns out.”
Located in central Pennsylvania and with a population of 4,200, Danville didn’t have a ton of options for residents to drop off packages. “The next closest return centers are 25+ minutes away,” says Brian. Along with the convenience of a local return center, Java Momma also provides copy, fax, and email services, the only spot in the area that does so. Brian explains that this makes them the only business in Danville to offer these types of services.
Aside from coffee, Java Momma sells a variety of teas, spices, seasonings, and cocoa blends. “We are in the process of becoming a full service coffee shop,” says Brian. “Right now, aside from our product line, we also have our coffee and tea available in airpots, and we have also partnered with local artisans to offer honey, jams, jellies, ice cream, small-batch soda, pottery, and candles available for purchase.”
Java Momma gets around 30-100 customers per day looking to drop off packages and use their space to ship items and other administrative work like making copies. Brian says that shipping services account for 50% of their income, while Java Momma products make up another 45%. The other 5% of their revenue comes from the products they feature from local artisans.
By expanding their scope, Java Momma has been able to grow their business. “Offering these services has resulted in an increase in awareness of our shop,” says Brian. “We now plan to expand to become a traditional coffee shop, offering a variety of brews and pastries.”
Sip and Ship in Seattle, Washington combines coffee, mailing and notary services, and a gift boutique in one convenient shop—what owners Diana and Stephen Naramore dubbed “the urban trifecta.” The Naramores envisioned a shop that could offer something unique and be a place for people to come together and enjoy coffee while taking care of their shipping needs.
“Our customers love cradling a warm cup of coffee and exploring our card collection and unique gifts,” Diana says. “It’s also a way to ease any stress around getting something complex or complicated in the mail, like getting your passports renewed, certifying tax documents, or shipping off a fragile family heirloom.”
Sip and Ship also offers virtual mailbox services, providing clients with a street address to receive mail and packages from anywhere in the world. Offering various services has allowed Sip and Ship to diversify and draw a bigger customer base.
“Going into a brick and mortar retail business has become more and more challenging these days in this city coupled with the onset of online shopping,” Diana says. “Our customers appreciate the convenience and personalized service they experience at Sip and Ship.”
Diverse Offerings, Diverse Challenges
Java Momma and Sip and Ship focus on mailing and shipping services, but the lessons learned by both businesses can apply to anyone looking to add a secondary amenity. Whether in a small town like Danville or a large metropolitan area like Seattle, offering a secondary service can bring in new customers, fill a need for the community, and increase profits.
However, adding a secondary arm to your business can also present challenges. For the team at Java Momma, challenges came during the holidays: “We started with the space behind the counter but then had to expand into an adjacent 10×12 room to store all the outgoing and return packages,” says Brian. “After Christmas, the returns filled that room and spilled into the hallway.” But he and his team worked it out and now know what to anticipate in the future. “You need to be flexible if you want to succeed,” he says.
For Sip and Ship, the biggest challenge is explaining their business. “Sip and Ship does not fit into one advertising box. We can be a confusing place from the outside looking in. Are you a coffee shop, gift shop, or shipping center?” Diana says. However, Sip and Ship eagerly accepts the challenge. “Our customer service teams work hard to welcome and put new guests at ease, inviting them to look around and make themselves feel at home.”
Coffee businesses that offer complementary services like Java Momma and Sip and Ship are seeing success in diversifying their offerings. Although businesses may encounter challenges, like dealing with excess inventory or deciding how to summarize their storefront, they can find value in providing a service and making patrons’ lives easier.