We recently carried out an email interview with Dan Debenham, manager of ‘The Page’, a Creative coffee and cocktail bar in West Yorkshire, UK. His in-depth vision and community action plan will leave you with the thoughts “How far can I really take my business?” AND “What are the limits to what I can offer to my customer base?”.
Hi Dan, please introduce your shop
The business name is The Page. We’re a licensed Media lounge and community commons/creative space. In a nutshell we’re a coffee shop and cocktail bar, but with a concept that allows for broad ranging secondary revenue streams to mitigate local seasonal instability in a the tourist town we operate from.
How much business experience do you have, and in which field(s)?
My experience is in management, ownership and consultancy in all fields applicable to this project, with this one representing the culmination of prior experience into an enterprise which builds a genuine public commons and media resource for the local community.
Wow, great. Where did that idea come from?
Just a common sense response to local needs and challenges.
We have a high small business failure rate locally due to narrow focus and offering combined with seasonal trade, high rent/rates and a significant flood risk. The only way to mitigate all that is diversification, careful internal design and a concept that allows outsourcing without sacrificing revenue.
I can sense your sincerity. I’m interested to hear how you’re planning to expand that idea in the future, please elaborate on your vision.
I’m happy for it to stay a local enterprise, but the concept is put together in a way that new venues can evolve to closely represent a given locality and it’s people, as well as being able to remain of the quality of a small independent cafe but with the viability and growth of a large chain.
The IP is open source, so to speak, and can be repeated elsewhere by others (under license), franchise-style, but without any fee, provided it operates according to our constitutional aims and values. If it succeeds at the higher end of my expectations, I’d consider financing two more venues in two years, secured on this one, in the hope that those two can breed four, and onwards, assuming stability.
It sounds as if within the next ten years your creativity has the potential to spread around the country, and I’m sure by that time many interesting side projects will also come about. For a project that probably started from a few friends talking over coffee, how does that prospect make you feel?
Well that would certainly be at the upper limit of what I’d hope for, but cheers.
I couldn’t claim any credit if it did. It’s just the way things are going I think. The challenge of online markets and increasing overheads forcing high street businesses to diversify and include a strong community component, combined with open source culture etc… I think it’s just the time for it. A lot of people must be on to it.
Bar Point of Sale
Very true, your growth will surge if you know how to ‘ride the wave’ so to speak, adding your unique flavour alongside. Has this diversification process come with any challenges? If so, how have you been hurdling them?
A challenge of the diversity is that things can start to look unfocused with so many elements incorporated. In our case each element is congruent with a core concept and system of values which, if known, re-strengthens that sense of focus. So one challenge for us is finding ways to inform our customer base of that core concept without boring them.
Dan, what is your core system of values?
Whether customer, stranger or business competitor we consider all elements of our community, first and foremost, to be a valued and sought addition to the public commons which is our intended objective.
We recognise that a community does not exist other than as a collection of the individuals which are its components.
3. Universal Affinity
We will offer a free and open platform for free speech and debate at all times, but local community enterprise and initiatives will only be directly aided by us when their aims are non-divisive and socially cohesive.
We favour the enthusiastic perpetuation of our local history to strengthen local identity in an age of rapid globalisation.
5. Personal and Community Congruence
This internal congruence may be expressed as… the pursuit of self-actualisation and psychological assimilation for the benefit of the individual and, by extension, the community.
With such truly great methodology, I can see no limit to your business expansion. The loyverse team hopes to follow and support your success in every possible way in the future! On that note, how has your experience with Loyverse POS for Cafe been so far?
Excellent. We’ve gone through the features until we’re happy it’s ideal for our needs and done some sample inputting, now we’ll be leaving it for a while until we have our product line finalised and are training staff in a month or so.
Glad to hear it. Finally, where can people see what you’re doing to find out more information?
Nowhere as yet. Website should go live in a fortnight though with all info in place.
Ok, send me the link when it’s up and the world will know!
It’s clear that anyone can offer the solution to “local needs and challenges”, but Dan is showing a great example of the ‘modern entrepreneur’ with his open mindset to expanding and supporting not only himself, but also local community cohesion whilst all the while leaving room for his concept to expand beyond just his coffee cavern.