Mississippi State alumnus Shane Reed opened the Strange Brew Coffeehouse in 2005 as a community gathering place. To differentiate his business from the big-brand coffee shops, he’d stay open 24 hours during finals week and serve “awesome local coffee” (the Albino Squirrel, a white chocolate and hazelnut latte, is a bestseller), house-baked pastries, and traditional “King Cakes,” a Mardi Gras favorite.
When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, Shane learned what it truly meant to be part of a community. “We made it through, and it taught us a few things about weathering hard times,” he says. “Being a small coffee house in a small town in Mississippi, you have to fight to survive.”
“Jump in and start using online tools and social media to promote your business. You have to be part of the conversation.”
Shane Reed, founder
Shane’s blend of hometown hospitality, locally roasted coffee, and freshly baked pastries is a winning combination. He and his wife, Katelyn Reed, head baker and shop manager, rely on Google tools to keep their brand in front of customers. Their Google My Business listing makes it easy for potential customers to find Strange Brew’s store hours, address, reviews, menus and website. They use social media, including Google+, to engage customers and connect with them even when they’re not at the coffeehouse. Google Analytics keeps them informed of how users are interacting with their site. Gmail and Google Docs help to keep the business operation flowing.
Strange Brew Coffeehouse sells 130,000 cups of coffee per year.
When a national coffee shop opened branches nearby, Shane and Katelyn didn’t have to worry. “Our sales went up by 22 percent that year,” Shane says. They now sell merchandise online, employ 16 people, and plan to open a shop in Tupelo, Mississippi. They’re also opening an ice cream shop called Churn & Spoon right next door to Strange Brew. They believe in “brewing it forward,” and support local children’s sports teams and other charities.
“Sometimes I get a cup of coffee in the middle of the night, when all the college students are hanging out in the shop,” he says. “It puts a smile on my face.”
For more information on the Strange Brew Coffeehouse case study, visit https://economicimpact.google.com.
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