This week's installment of the Companies Tony Loves Series is on the Leaf N Bean, a local coffee shop in Bozeman, MT. "Companies Tony Loves" posts describe why innovative companies and business practices make us all better off, and therefore why they deserve our love. "Companies Tony Loves" is featured every Sunday on this blog.
Small businesses are everywhere, and they are a big part of our lives. Successful local companies earn our business with hometown charm, good service and good value. I love successful small businesses for all of their innovation and charm. In this era of chain restaurants and Big Box stores, the small businesses that remain have a competitive spirit that is great for customers and their product cannot be replaced. And, that's why this week's company I love is the Leaf N Bean, a local coffee shop in Bozeman, Montana.
Having lived in Bozeman for seven years, I noticed one very peculiar fact about the place -- there are zero Starbucks coffee shops in Bozeman. There's plenty of demand for espresso in Bozeman, a vibrant young community that is home to Montana State University. With nearly 40,000 people, Bozeman is even a large town by Montana standards. Yet, there is no Starbucks in sight. There are no Dunkin' Donuts locations in Bozeman either. Corporate coffee is mysteriously vacant from the college town.
This fact should make you marvel at the local coffee shops in Bozeman. Starbucks would not do well in Bozeman: not for lack of coffee demand, but for abundance of competition. I have personally visited over 20 Bozeman coffee shops, and I have not seen them all. Even though Starbucks is one of the fiercest competitors on the planet, it is no match for the local coffee shop market in Bozeman.
How can this be? What is so great about Bozeman coffee shops? Take the example of the Leaf N Bean, which has two locations in Bozeman. The Leaf N Bean has a full set of amenities that welcome visitors and encourage them to come back. The comfortable chairs and tranquil music make it a great place to study while sipping some coffee or tea. There are board games for people who want to hang out in the shop. There's even a playroom for children to play while mothers sip coffee and have conversation.
So far, the place sounds like the quintessential coffee shop, complete with hometown charm. That it is, but the downtown location is more than that in the evenings. The Leaf N Bean on main street hosts live music several evenings out of the week. People are drawn to all of these amenities, and the service is always great. I have never entered a Leaf N Bean coffee shop without being greeted with the friendliest smiles.
All in all, the Leaf N Bean has small town charm and provides high quality service in a way that corporate coffee cannot. That's a good reason to love them and an even better reason to support them.
If you have ideas for Companies Tony Loves, please let me know. It could never hurt to have more suggestions!