What’s Wrong With This Picture? Retail Moments

This is about selling coffee stuff; competing with Starbucks. It comes in two parts. First, a word picture, then a cellphone photo.

The Word Picture

Today is Friday. I was next in line getting coffee at Allann Bros. Coffee in Eugene, OR (coffee country). The woman in front of me, while being served, turned to a nearby counter and saw a $100 backpacking coffee gadget, picked it up, obviously wanted it, and turned back to the counter and said:

"Cool! 30% off! Does this count for that too, 30% off?"

"No," answered the counter person, "not until Monday."

I didn’t care myself, and I hadn’t even had my coffee, but I ask you: if you’re the owner of the store, don’t you want that person to say yes? Take the money today instead of waiting until Monday? Do we have any way of knowing or guessing if that customer who wanted to buy today will be back there Monday? I won’t. I only go there when I’m up and out before 6:30 a.m.

Now the Cellphone Photo:


It’s obviously a poor quality cellphone picture, but if you can make it out, it’s another coffee place, two doors down from a Starbucks, with a hand-written sign saying "NO Starbucks Drinks." Does that make sense to you? Is it good for that business to do?

— Tim

4 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With This Picture? Retail Moments

  1. Actually, yes, it does make sense, given that particular cafe. They are trying to maintain their targeted market (scruffy grad students and professors) by keeping out another (undergrads).

    The hand-lettering (and upper-case "NO") of the sign not only conveys the rudeness of upper academia towards its underlings, but references the 'home-grown local' vs. 'big chain' divide they have created in cultivating their target customers. It deters those they do not want as customers, AND makes the customer segment they want feel better about themselves for choosing this cafe.

  2. So actually this is very clever strategy, then? I wonder how it's going for them. They were really empty when I snapped that picture, and the Starbucks was full.

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