In January we embarked on a partnership with Kent County Council in the History and Library Centre in Maidstone.
KCC were looking at a way to make the library more welcoming and inviting and approached us to come up with a proposal. This was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the coffee cart package we have available.
We built the cart, purchased all the equipment we needed and opened the cart at the end of January for a trial through to 2nd April.
We employed two members of staff to cover the 6 days a week that the cart was due to be open.
When the cart opened it took a few weeks to begin seeing a consistent number of customers, as people learned that the cart would be there and that they were allowed to eat and drink in the library.
Our initial prediction for how much money the cart would make, based on the users figures was unfortunately much higher than the sales actually were. The demographic of the people using the library was actually not people who had available money to buy coffee during the visit; they were often using the computers following appointments at the job centre. Although the takings became consistent , it unfortunately was not enough to cover the staff costs.
We decided to keep the trial going through to the end date, despite losing money as the reception of the cart from staff and customers was overwhelmingly positive. In the photo above you can see the back of the coffee machine covered in positive feedback cards. We hoped that we would find volunteers to man the cart once the trial had finished but unfortunately this did not come to fruition.
The cart functioned extremely well and we were really pleased to see our design come to life. Our vision for this cart is it the sort of thing young people could take on as a start up business that they run and manage themselves. It would be perfect in office blocks and similar locations.
We are continuing to explore different models of making it work within the library and are in discussions with KCC about the possibility of trying it in different libraries in the county.