What Makes One No Destination Place More Successful in the Long Run (Short Piece 31)


Today is the day after 4th of July and also a Monday making the day a practical holiday. Trains run on weekday schedule but banks are closed and hardly anyone around in the transit. I had to get up early to head to work and open not realizing today is a holiday also. My errands did not get done because I couldn’t get anything done when everyone acts like government and close. If economy was good, there would be a huge push to stay open even on the exact day of a holiday but in today’s economy nobody is really pushing anything and things can get not done very easily. I worked in the morning and my regular cafe was closed which is no surprise but the three other places I tried were completely packed. I can point to several reasons for this in my view. Cafes, and coffeeshops (including Starbucks because of its free WiFi) are visited often casually by locals especially when they have to kill time or have no true destination to visit. Today brings many in because they have no other plans packing such places. I am at Peet’s coffee and there is plenty of places to sit and do things on the contrary to the places I checked in various San Francisco neighborhoods. Is that any fault of Peet’s? I don’t think so. I think Peet’s does what the rest of them are doing but not exactly the same way. I think more than any other reason Peet’s builds less regular return visitors (who like to crash there and not necessary coffee sales counts) for one simple reason: The number of seats are limited. One of the major factors in where people shop is their habits. Walgreens built a very successful business based on only stocking what the customers regularly and repeatedly purchased. Shopping habits are very important for the sake of repeat business. Customers who visit various cafe and coffeeshops keep a mental account of many factors about the place and when it comes to a coffeeshop or cafe being a No Destination establishment one decisive factor is how much seating the place has. More seating automatically means better chances of a guaranteed seat for a visiting patron who had no plans and just drops in to have some coffee, and do something else on the side. There are times when one prefers not to think and just forget many standards and relax by not having to dress up, make a reservation, travel, park and also spend a lot of money. Cafes and coffeeshops are traditionally popular because they qualify as such places. An average patron needs not plan anything but show up to have a relaxing time and possibly get something done by reading, making calls or working on a laptop. I have found one common factor in establishments that have plenty of traffic and that is they have far more seating available at any time than they actually need for their size. The abundance of seating makes the joint popular as a No Destination many would visit with no plans and no requirements. This has been a success formula for many establishments I am familiar with and even chains such as Starbucks are now joining in and will increase their overall success by being a stronger No Destination. WiFi for free adds a strong dimension to what can go on within a standalone or coffeeshop location and Starbucks has taken a huge steps ahead by joining in. Is Peet’s a long way behind because they have a terrible WiFi system? I really do not know and frankly do not care because I as others do head to the places where I get what I am looking for and can have some opinion on their activities. I can say this however that from my experience Peet’s and many other No Destinations can build stronger business by providing plenty of seating well beyond what the location requires. The benefits will manifest themselves in the long run. If nothing else, the public are hypnotically attracted to locations that are busy and even more if they are always busy. This formula works magic even if the occupants are the same people who have been there for hours and are doing the same thing without spending much money in regular time intervals per visit. The atmosphere built as a result of having many people present often creates a strong culture unique to the establishment that varies from location to location based on the spacing, interior design, floor layout and other similar factors. I recommend competitive services such as WiFi for the right type of business as a means to build business in the long run but even more I recommend considering small things such as the population of seats available as a factor that will determine the strength of the success of a location.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.

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