February 2009 Issue
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Riding Out the (Economic) Storm

by Cynthia Fazekas

Weathering the storm

Economic uncertainty has everyone nervous. The media seems hell bent on reporting the bad news and giving us very little good news to keep us going. People are scared to spend money even if they are not feeling a financial pinch. It has been reported that shoppers and corporations are afraid that they will look insensitive to the current struggles of others and are buying less, canceling major events, and reining in spending in general. All this contributes to a downward spiral.

During difficult times escapism becomes important. While offering tea as an affordable luxury, you can also offer a respite from the daily trials and tribulations. Atmosphere is as crucial as customers will want to relax and forget their worries. Whether Victorian or Zen-like, your place should make it easy to leave the world outside.

Make sure your menus and prices have "recession friendly" options. Offer a cup of tea (or a small pot) and a scone at a special price. Attractive pricing will ensure a guilt-free experience and get people in the door. This will also encourage repeat business, as your client will feel they can treat themselves without breaking their budget. Don't skimp on quality of your food or teas as tempting as that may be. Your customer is coming to you for an experience they cannot get at home. Provide it and keep their loyalty.

Lastly, keep close to your community. Participating in local events and being involved in town or neighborhood issues will not only show people you care but also help you stay informed. Pull together with other business owners near you to devise ways to keep the customers coming.