Wednesday, June 13, 2018

That'll be $23.

"There's a new coffee shop opening in my neighborhood."

The most commonly heard phrase of the 21st century.
Followed closely by...

"That new coffee shop in the neighborhood is closing."

Followed even closer by...

"Holy shit, did you see what that dim, frothy twatweasel tweeted this morning?"

But let's get back to the coffee shop and the silliest of all endeavors, the journey into retail.

Years ago, while planning my erstwhile escape from advertising, I considered sinking my savings into an entrepreneurial adventure. I was planning on opening a tiny shop somewhere in WestLA, maybe on Robertson, in order to attract customers from all the adjacent affluent neighborhoods.

The idea was quite simple -- I would sell brisket. That's it, brisket. Oh we'd have some of the accompaniments like mac & cheese, cole slaw, potatoes, beans and rice, but the main attraction was brisket, which we would sell to go, by the pound.

Here's the hook, you could have your brisket Texas style. Cooked low and slow, just the way they serve it in Austin. Bubba's Brisket.

Or you could have your brisket Brooklyn style. Slathered in onions, veggies and schmaltz, just the way your nana would serve it. Bubby's Brisket.

Hence the name, Bubba and Bubby's Brisket Factory.

Not a bad idea. But the math wasn't there. Just like the math is not there for 99% of all retail.

Between the initial investment, the cost of equipment, the cost of raw material (the brisket), the cost of labor, the cost of insurance, the cost of operations, and the cost of marketing ( I know firsthand how those ad types can rake people over the coals) I figured that to make anywhere near a profit, I'd have to charge $159 for a single slice of brisket.

I knew I could make good brisket, I just wasn't convinced people would spend that much for it.

I'm convinced what's bad news for brisket is also bad news for sellers of books, biscuits, baskets, and all manner of brick a brack. You have to sell a lot of shit just to make a nickel.

I wish the folks opening the new coffee shop in my neighborhood the best of luck. But unless I wake up one morning and see a line of waiting customers that stretches all the way to Boyle Heights, I'm thinking today's cup of java will soon be replaced by tomorrow's Harry's House of Canned Hams.

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