Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Coffee Shop Union #CoffeeShopUnion begins in South West Herts

Once upon a time it would have been perfectly normal to walk, alone, into your local pub and be greeted by a familiar faces, all of whom knew each other, their families and what was going on in the local community. For many of us those days are long gone, and along with it that feeling of community spirit and belonging.

All is not lost though because the rise of national chains of coffee shops have sparked a new phenomena here in the UK, a coffee culture. Along with these national chains of coffee shops however has been an equally impressive rise in 'Independent Coffee Shops' attracted by the success of the large chains these independents are springing up everywhere and this could be very significant in the rebirth of our communities right across the nation.

These local coffee shops 'at the moment' may not have the branding and the guarantee of quality but perhaps that is all about to change... introducing the Coffee Shop Union...

The #CoffeeShopUnion is about bringing these unique independent coffee shops together so they can operate as a team. Through collaborating, sharing their knowledge and also promoting their unique offerings, together they can reach a much wider audience. These coffee shops have some significant advantages. They all offer a different experience, are hyper local, the owners live in the local community (often for many years), they know what is going on locally, they have thousands of local connections and... they are friendly, inclusive and offer service with a smile. They also very importantly... connect and introduce people to each other.

The Coffee Shop Union seeks to help further enhance these independents by supporting them in sourcing products as sustainably as possible and by using local providers to supply breads, cheeses, milks and other products sold through their shops. This doesn't stop at cafes though as pubs can join in too. Most pubs offer coffee services now and are open throughout the day and can sign up to the same programme.

We are already witnessing Coffee Shops offering comedy nights, music evenings, book clubs, and other community based events which are beginning to reconnect the people in the local community. Couple this with running Link4Coffee events during the month these coffee shops can begin to act as community hubs that underpin rebuilding the fabric of community that we have lost over the past 50-70 years.

As +Linda Anderson of the +The Kitchen Croxley says "running Link4Growth community building events in the shop is like encouraging people to have conversations with friends they didn't know they had'.

Each of the Independent Coffee Shops signing up to the Coffee Shop Union is included in local marketing and promotions, has access to low cost training, networking opportunities, a short video to introduce their shop, and stickers for the window that act as a kind of kite mark guarantee of what you can expect.

By collaborating, working together and raising the profile of the Coffee Shop Union it is hoped that more people will begin to use our local independents which is much better for the coffee shops themselves, the local economy and as a direct consequence, through these hubs; enhances our communities too. Win, win, win...

+Catherine Baldwin  and Gordon Smithfield were involved in the design and production of the collateral and Linda Anderson (Kitchen Croxley) and +Neal Emery  ( +Reason Coffee Shop & Bookstore ) were actively involved in the creation of the idea...