Dear Joe

Business is doing well, but I have trouble getting my customers to indulge in impulse items at the checkout counter. I have mints, custom mugs and some desserts, but nobody seems to show any interest. I know there is potential here, but I can’t break through this wall. Please help.


Mario Francis


With the economy turning around, lots of people are returning to cafes for their daily dose of caffeine, but consumers have not yet forgotten about the recession. This means that impulse and up-sales are going to be more difficult, but there are some great ways to get customers to spend an extra dollar or two without breaking the bank yourself. The mints and mugs that you have at your cafe are good options for consumers, but the cost of those items can be rather expensive. Plus, the items you currently offer are available at any gas station or convenience store. In order to catch the attention of your customers you need to step outside of the ordinary and provide something that they cannot get anywhere else.

One of the greatest ways of providing unique products is to ask your community. Perhaps you host a local band or musician on Friday nights. Do they have a CD that they would like to sell? Maybe one of your customers likes to paint or make candles as a hobby. I’d be willing to bet that your customers have some really unique talents that would not only exceed expectations, but their artistic touch would be a nice addition to your cafe.

The other advantage of showcasing local talent is price. If the Saturday night jazz group only plays music as a hobby, they will probably be delighted to sell their CD at a reasonable price, and on consignment! The commitment and cost of local novelties are low, but the value is super-high. Ask your regular customers if they know of any talented individuals, and you may stumble across some hidden treasure. Look for ways to become a part of the fabric of your community, and the success of your cafe will undoubtedly follow.

Yours in Coffee,

Josephius A. Graham