Have independents pushed out Starbucks?
Starbucks on Division Street, Sheffield recently closed down and word on the street is that it was forced to do so by popular independent coffee shops in the area.
Within the past six months Tamper Coffee, an independent coffee shop just off Division Street, had to chop their service counter in half to make room for more customers. Kiwi owner Jonathan Perry said, “As we’ve made more space its got busier and busier.”
Eight Ounce, a new coffee shop on Glossop Street, is also drawing in plenty of customers with quirky offers on social media sites.
Have these independents led to the demise of Starbucks in the Devonshire Quarter? Should the Devonshire Quarter return to its previous status as a city centre hub for independent shops?
Sheffield Unchained decided to explore the rumour of an independent take over and took a nosy down to Division Street to talk to the owners of some independents.
New Zealanders Jonathan Perry and his wife Natalie have been the proud owners of Tamper:Coffee, a New Zealand style cafe, since November 2011.
“We’ve been in the UK for over fifteen months now. We haven’t tried to bring anything that we don’t know ourselves as part of the New Zealand and Australian culture. This is pretty much it, it’s a really huge coffee scene.”
The great thing about New Zealand is that it is completely full of independents. The whole economy is driven by good little independents doing great things. I think the key is that independents feed off independents and it brings a collective of people together.
New Zealand independents have taken over from big chains like Starbucks over the last decade and Jonathan believes that the same could be happening in Sheffield.
Starbucks in New Zealand occupies a high street space but because of the great independents in New Zealand, Starbucks has got smaller and smaller. They actually pulled out of Australia because the quality of the independents got so great that when it came down to decision making it was a no brainer for a lot of people. So Starbucks simply became known as a tourist coffee shop.
Its been really interesting over these last decades as we’ve seen Starbucks lose its foothold in New Zealand. It could be a similar thing here, you never know. The great thing about it is that it gives people the opportunity to try something different.
The Forum, an independent restaurant situated opposite the now vacated Starbucks, has taken the opportunity to attract new customers by opening from 8am.
“We tried it a while ago but it was slow to take off so we thought with Starbucks closing it would be a good time to alert people again. It has helped and more people are now coming to try our unique coffee blend,” said Patti Crozier, a spokesperson for The Forum.
The Forum are skeptical of the rumor that independents have caused Starbucks to close down, however they admit that customers are thinking more about the quality of their coffee. Patti said:
We haven’t seen a particularly large increase in coffee or beverage this year. I know of one independent coffee shop that is doing extremely well, but I wouldn’t say that it was affecting sales on other chains like Starbucks.
However, I do think that more recently the consumer has become more coffee savvy and educated on blends and styles. They know what they want and where to find quality.
Jonathan agrees that quality is what led to the success of independents in New Zealand.
“You’ll generally find that the quality is of a really high standard. The independents are sort of pushing each other, which I think is a good thing.
“In my personal opinion I think for too long the UK has suffered from bad coffee and unfortunately its probably come through people’s perception of coffee.
“Its more about pride than anything else. Coffee is the second largest traded commodity in the world and sometimes you just have to take a bit more care. You don’t get to that final step and think I’m just going to butcher it or produce something bad, you really want to take pride and think I’m going to get the most out of this.”
Is quality becoming more important to consumers? If so, are consumers turning to independents to find that quality?
Jonathan believes that quality and being independent are synonymous with each other:
To me when it comes to independents I think quality. You’ve got someone that is probably really passionate about what they do, so they’ll do everything they can within that business to make sure it is the best of the best. From my perspective I always look at independents and think they’re all about quality, they’re about passion and long hours and they strive to make their business work.
What do you think?
Sheffield Unchained would like you to tell us your thoughts on whether the closing of a Starbucks in the Devonshire Quarter signals a victory for independents in the area.
Do you know of any other chains that have closed down recently and are there any independents that might have contributed to their decision to shut down?
We’d like your thoughts on whether independents are becoming more trendy and whether quality is becoming synonymous with independents.
You can be creative with how you respond; include a photo of a popular independent or send us an audio or video clip or even a drawing representing your thoughts.
We’d like to collate your thoughts and pull together your ideas for our next article, so if you’d like to be quoted then please include your full name and profession or specify how you would like to be identified.