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Coffee shop bans tech, business booms

Coffee shop bans tech, business booms
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

When was the the last time you were at a coffee shop and did NOT see nearly everyone on a tablet or smartphone, plugged into headphones, or glued to some kind of screen?

I'm going to guess it was back in the 90s.

It seems the norm these days for people to go to coffee shops to get work done. Most shops offer free Wi-Fi for travelers, freelancers and others on-the-go.

Knowing this, Starbucks has even made it easier for their customers to plug in. After all, more Internet access translates into more business and sales, right?

That's not the case at one little mom and pop coffee shop in Burlington, Vermont.

Owners of August First, Jodi Whalen and Phil Merrick, started a ban on laptops and tablets in their little bakery after finding that customers who come in to do work, spend less, stay longer and don't socialize.

The average customer spends $15 and less than an hour at a table, laptop customers would spend around $5 an hour and could stay for four hours, sometimes causing more losses by spreading papers and books across four-person tables.

That didn't mesh will with the image the owners had envisioned for their bakery.

“When we were dreaming of what August First will be – will it be this place with seven people staring at their screens?” Whalen told the Guardian. “Or would it be a place where people come to see people they know, chitchat, laugh?”

The husband and wife team opted for the latter and implemented a strict no-laptop, no-tablet policy. Since the tech ban, August First has seen actual business growth!

The ban resulted in 20% year-over-year sales growth in the early months, and now hovers around 10%, both an improvement from the company’s pre-laptop ban average of 5%.

Not only has the ban increased business, but it's also created an atmosphere the owners can be happy with.

Do you own a small business? Would a ban on technology work for you? On the flip side, would you go to a bakery who wouldn't let you online? Let me know what you think by posting in the comments below.

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Source: The Guardian
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