Lewis Eady x Note Coffee and Eats scooped up the 'Hottest food and/or beverage integration' award at this year's Gem Retail Hotlist. Here's what made them stand out.
Placing retail and hospitality side-by-side at the Epsom premise of Lewis Eady has proved to be a winning combination, providing customers browsing for a new instrument or attending music lessons the convenience the in-store cafe, Notes Coffee & Eats.
It was 2016 when the Lewis Eady business model underwent an overhaul and the brand was repositioned to meet the needs of the modern music customer. The focus turned from online to offline, with the goal of creating a space which was conducive to the luxury market, and would give the business a significant point of difference to its competitors.
Change isn’t always easy, especially with a brand which has been around since 1884, but John Eady, managing director, says the response has been fantastic.
“Our hope was that the introduction of the cafe would institute a really nice vibe and environment, and it has really worked well. When someone’s trying out a piano you’ll turn around to see everyone in the cafe has stopped what they’re doing to listen to the pianist in the showroom.”
In a competitive luxury market - some of the pianos sell to the tune of $300,000 - Eady says the cafe provides a place for customers to sit and ponder their investment.
“We tend to find that customers like to take their time, particularly with those who are looking to purchase quality instruments. It’s wonderful to be able to offer them the opportunity to have a coffee, and to sit down and talk through with them what they’re looking for.”
Notes is also utilised as a community space, with customers gathering to socialise with friends, or with colleagues for meetings.
For those contemplating a hospitality offering in their retail store, Eady has some advice - do your homework, especially around compliance and the onerous task of operating a cafe.
“The cost is not only financial, there’s also the impact on the retail store and your customers. We had to make the decision whether to shut the business for two months and get contractors in to do the whole job, or to do it ourselves in stages.”
Being out of business to two months wasn’t really an option, so Eady tackled the project by sectioning off parts of the showroom and working on them while the rest of the premise functioned as usual.
“Figuring out how you can do it, and with the least disruption to your own business, is key.”
The decision to own the cafe was made for a vast number of reasons, one of which was maintaining control of the retail store and the cafe, which Eady concedes are two quite different businesses to operate and manage.
“The key reason for having ownership of both is that it’s seamless, and not a case of the cafe and us - it’s one big happy family.
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 764 October/November 2019.