Camden, NJ's City Coffee has managed to thrive, despite the retail mass-collapse in Camden's city center. The coffee shop's secret is to offer every conceivable service. So in addition to coffee and pastries, you can also get a urine test, a paternity test, financial planning, tax prep, a studio photo-portrait, and, soon, a specialist cleanup service for landlords whose houses have been rented by compulsive hoarders. The counter-staff also serve as unofficial fixers for local lawyers, because all the judges and clerks eat there. Jo Piazza profiled the business for the WSJ:
On a normal day, jurors and lawyers mix with criminal defendants, city bureaucrats cross paths with recovering addicts from the nearby methadone clinic — and everyone comes to see Mona Pryor, whose job title as City Coffee’s operations director scarcely hints at her many roles.
“Lawyers are always coming in here to ask me to put in a good word with judge so-and-so, or asking me to introduce them to someone from the other side,” said Pryor. She is the one-woman force behind most of City Coffee’s services, with an associate’s degree in accounting and a variety of specialty certificates.
“We did about 300 tax returns this season. I do the DNA swabs and the drug testings. I’m one of the only notaries around and I am always marketing the businesses,” Pryor said from a desk covered in dozens of note pads. “But I also make a perfect latte.”
City Coffee owner Ronald Ford Jr. succinctly sums up the central insight behind his multi-business strategy: “You can get your drug test while you are waiting for your coffee to be done.”
Struggling City’s Coffee Shop Serves It All
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