It is a common default when a person hears the word ‘community’ they automatically picture an HOA, church, a YMCA or some kind of community organization of people with common interests, goals, and purposes. While the latter is mostly true, a community doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with neighborhood associations or organizations. A community for how I will use it in this blog post is simply a group of people with common interests, goals, and purposes. In our case it is the tech world and the coffee world coming together.

It’s a funny thing how drastic our community of customers changed when we shifted locations for the opening of Dry Bones Mud House. We initially were looking at a stand alone space in an already existing espresso retail and maintenance shop. Instead we opened in a tech start-up incubator at the Union 525.

At the time we expected our customer base would come from the surrounding neighborhoods and destination traffic. There was not a lot of sidewalk traffic, even though we were less than a quarter-mile from the center of Fountain Square, Indianapolis. There were only a handful of small businesses surrounding the location which were not the kind of businesses that attracted a lot of walk up customers.

So we planned based on this premise. We asked questions. How do we attract the neighborhood to our coffee shop was the first question. How do we cater our products to the neighborhoods was another question. We also asked how can we serve the neighborhood outside of our coffee and tea offerings. Then our location changed.

We went from a neighborhood community to a largely business-oriented community. Our intentional focus had to adapt. Some people will say if we just applied general business principles that are related to the coffee industry then we would make everyone happy. But I am a firm believer you can’t make everyone happy. So why would I spend Dry Bone’s time and energy working towards that end when I know it will be fruitless.

Today we are facing a shift in the small business mindset which is understanding our community of customers and how we can serve them in more specific ways than the products we sell. And it is seeing success. Large corporations are even adopting standard operating procedures that cater to the ‘communities’ in which they operate. Customers are also beginning to expect to see accommodations made for them to make life simpler, easier, more convenient, etc. Some customers even look specifically for local small businesses with philanthropic approaches to their communities.

It’s exciting to see the coffee community and its community partners working together to make our world a better place. As Dry Bones matures and conducts business it will continue to seek out opportunities to serve its customers and the communities in which they operate. And not just through serving great coffee, but in other capacities that will help the surrounding community thrive and prosper.