Thoughts on Our 4 Year Anniversary

Today marks 4 years since we opened to the public on March 18, 2011.  In case you're wondering, the day after St. Patrick's Day is most definitely a great day to open a coffee shop, at least in Chicago.  I'm sure you can imagine why.

The past 4 years have had their ups and downs.

We knew when we chose the South Loop neighborhood that we had an uphill battle in front of us.  The South Loop just doesn't have the population density of other neighborhoods. Plus, it is still perceived as "scary" by some who live north of us so they don't visit for eating, drinking, or shopping.  Even more-so in 2011 than in 2015.

We were, are, and will be willing to fight this uphill battle because we believe the long term benefit will be worth it.  We envision that, if we put in the effort at the beginning when small businesses around us was somewhat scarce, we'd become a neighborhood institution.  Even if lots of competition opened up later, we hope we'll be so ingrained in the South Loop that no one could compete with our South Loop neighborhoodliness.  Besides, the more direct trade coffee being consumed the better!

Did we accomplish this vision?  Hard to tell.  But I think that, if we were gone, we'd be missed by lots of folks.

So, what got us through the past 4 years?  In a word, perseverance.  Even when the going got tough, we pushed through.  We tightened our belts.  We put in long hours.  We never gave up or backed down.  We went through the pits of despair and kept our hope alive.  We won't bore you with all the details but I can tell you I wouldn't want to live through it again.  I would add that we didn't persevere alone.  There were lots of friends, family, loyal customers who stood with us and helped us when we couldn't keep going on our own.

What's next? We're close to becoming profitable and then the sky is the limit.  We've got some great ideas along the lines of Placemaking, a real South Loop Chamber of Commerce, franchising, and further mentoring/coaching of others who want to start coffee shops of their own.  There's still a lot of slavery in the world as people produce coffee, clothing, flowers, sugar, etc.  There is still lots of work to do and we're not giving up anytime soon.  Face it.  You're stuck with us.  :-)

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