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Third Place Matters

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

A man using his laptop computer in a cafe.

This guy walks inside his usual cafe, backpack strapped, earphones on, mobile phone on one hand, and maybe a book on the other. He goes to the usual spot—a table for one in a cool, quiet corner, away from all the attention but still close enough to do some people-watching when necessary. The barista approaches and asks if it will be the usual, and he confirms. He sits down, opens his backpack to pull out the heaviest 2012 MacBook Pro known to man, and proceeds to plug it into the nearby socket (because the life of an 8-year old battery is mostly crap), while waiting for the WiFi to connect. His coffee arrives and he gets to work, typing and clicking away for hours on end. He’ll have a second cup, maybe a third if he’s not fully wired yet. He might grab a cookie or five. That guy is me, and I just described my typical “office” day. Other days I’d have meetings in the same cafe. You see, I prefer working in cafes as opposed to the office or at home. There’s a certain thing to cafes that get me in my zone. It could be the feeling of privacy without the isolation. It could be the experience of being around people without needing to fully engage if you don’t want to. It could be that I just stated the exact same thing slightly differently. The reason for writing about this at all is that there are countless others like me. Entrepreneurs, freelancers, office folks who need a scenery change—they are my people, and my people are the ones who prefer the third place to get their work done, and they choose that third place according to how it addresses their needs. Does it have reliable WiFi? Good. Does it have electrical sockets for when my laptop runs out of battery? Great. Is it generally quiet and is the cellular signal healthy enough for me to have fairly decent conversations via mobile phone? Fantastic. Will the seating be able to provide me the space and ambience I need to get work done? Perfect. Ok, coffee shop—into my list of third place options you go. Bottom-line: If you’re looking to get working people into your cafe, you can’t go wrong with addressing their needs. It all goes back to identifying and catering to your target market, and if you’re in a central business district, you’d better be targeting the working crowd. Some working folks are even willing to settle for just ok coffee if it means having all their “office requirements” in one place. I should know—I’m one of them. And that’s my dirty little secret. If you want to start a conversation about becoming a better third place for your cafe’s target audience, send Bean & Barley a quick message HERE.

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