Crowdsourced Ideas for Cafes and Other Third Places


Cafe with local art displayed on the walls

Get ready for a dozen ideas for a better third place. Pictured is the Gathering Grounds Cafe in Avon, Minnesota. Photo by Deb Brown.

At the Main Street Now conference, I attended a session on the cafes. I've written lots of ideas that the public has shared. I thought you might know a coffee, or think of ways to use them with other types of small town businesses.

  • Organize party-debates or allow groups to meet in your space to increase your turnover.
  • Create a book club for you
  • Tell your story online. How were you founded? What is your story?
  • Take advantage of your relationships with other companies to arrange a business visit or an experience that is not limited to your business.
  • Guest Readings, where guests can enter and share their writings
  • Organize adult coloring groups or game nights to attract more guests in the evenings
  • Learn more about the people who work in your space, those who bring their laptops and work. What are their things? Is there potential to communicate with them?
  • Present coffee cups of all the shops in town
  • Provide vegetarian and vegan choices on the menu
  • Support local causes and share about them
  • Promote the possibility of making friends, especially for new residents
  • Contact new residents to inform them of your location (you can find them through real estate agents.)
  • Explain how people can connect with people who do not necessarily look like them, how you play a role in building community bonds between groups in the city.

Do you have coffee ideas in a small town to add? When I asked in my newsletter, here are some ideas that readers shared.

"Every time you get a new coffee, bring a bottle of air to all the businesses near you and hand out samples."
George M. Wurtzel

"Invite a well-known Barista to organize a Barista class in your coffee shop. Funds could be obtained from employment groups, etc. As a result, a series of courses were organized to teach people how to make simple things like vanilla slices and lamington. [an Australian cake specialty] Your clients will then ask you to organize classes on what they want to learn. "
Graham Reid

"Our trail organization organizes every Thursday morning a coffee-talk gathering in a park with a local bike shop. It's an opportunity to walk, ride a bike or drive to share an hour of relaxation in society. It's a great way to meet neighbors and solve the world's problems. It could just as easily be installed outside of a cafe. The goal is to go out, drink coffee, meet neighbors. We always have a type of coffee already prepared, but invite roasters, shops and individuals to cook a pot in a camp. "
Beth Nobles

This is the Coffee Outside website.

"We are conducting driving tests at a coffee shop in downtown Paulding, Ohio, following Deb Brown's visit here two weeks ago. The test takes place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in May. The first two days of the week have been extraordinarily successful. By using voluntary baristas, community support has been exceptional.
"Thank you Becky & Deb for all the sharing of ideas and leadership you provide to our many small communities!
David Burtch

"All of these coffee ideas can be modified and applied to wineries. I say "modified" because of the restrictions on alcohol. We practiced many of these practices at our winery in Knoxville, in the Irish state. Tonight I am organizing a fashion show with 5 women business leaders from my community. This is the first time I do this and I hope it will work well. I contacted our business owners who had a fashion or tangent business. I know a jewelry designer who will match her product with the clothes of the shops. A local photographer will take pictures of the models and the event. A fabric designer who makes his own jackets will model his creations. I have charged tickets in advance of $ 5 (available online or in stores) and $ 10 at the door. The first drink is free. So there are very few "risks" for guests, but it allows me to gauge interest and attendance. You can see our story on our website NearWoodWinery.com. I think I have a pretty good original story on the About Us page. "

Joann Schissel

Of course, I asked how had the parade gone and Joann shared more:

"I think the parade went well. We had 15 models (including children) and friends / relatives were present. I focus on the strategy of "bringing my tribe together" and serving established groups of people who have their own tribe. I loved working with women business owners and promoting their products.
"Thank you for your good advice for helping small towns. I think you and Deb are responding to a real need in our rural communities as mentors, strategists and jubilant leaders! "

What other ideas do you have for cafes and other community gathering businesses?

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About Becky McCray

Becky launched Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share stories and ideas of building businesses and rural communities with other small businessmen. She and her husband own an Alva, Oklahoma liquor store and a small ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

  • Crowdsourced Ideas for Cafes and Other Third Places – May 20, 2019
  • Post signs with your tourist hashtag where visitors will see them. – May 13, 2019
  • Book Review: Celebrity CEO of Ramon Ray – May 6, 2019
  • How to develop an entrepreneurial culture and more small businesses in your city 29th April 2019
  • Where is the future mural of your city? – 22 April 2019
  • The secret of effective follow-up: what not to say – 15 April 2019
  • How church buildings can do more for the community – 8 April 2019
  • Ideas for filling empty windows – 2 April 2019
  • Know your customers: how do they want to be good? – March 25, 2019
  • 99% of the best things you can do for your city do not require permission from anyone – March 4, 2019

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