David vs Goliath isn't always that dramatic

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Broadway CafeA few days ago I wrote about how the smallmarts of the world compete with much larger companies. Then a story appeared in the Kansas City Star that really hit home and I couldn’t pass up revisiting this idea.

There is a small coffeehouse in Kansas City’s Westport District called the Broadway Cafe. Broadway is in all ways local. Lots of character and characters, a very sweet, personable owner, homegrown from the tile to the ceiling. About 10 years ago a storm surrounded the store when Starbucks announced the location of their first store in the Kansas City area would be right next door, like, sharing an internal wall next door.

The locals petitioned and marched and met with City Council members over the injustice of this.

As it turns out, a funny thing happened. Broadway Cafe did not go out of business, in fact, some would say business grew. Now, how could that be? The fact of the matter is Broadway Cafe didn’t compete with Starbucks and never tried. It was amusing to drive by and see both stores busy with customers. A sociologist would have a heyday with the distinct make-up of each store’s demographics.

“I was nervous, I didn’t know how people would react,” said Sara Honan, co-owner of Broadway Cafe with Jon Cates. “But once (Starbucks) opened and people just didn’t flock next door I thought it was kind of funny that a Starbucks would be so close. We just did our own thing, making good coffee.”

Notice in the sentence above I said was – the article I referenced in the Kansas City paper was pointing out that the Starbucks location was closing this week, the first to do so in the area. Now, did Broadway Cafe bring Starbucks to its knees, no, not really, they just went about being authentic and didn’t panic when a large competitor came along – that’s the lesson.


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