As always, the inspiration for this month’s blog came from a conversation that started “What on earth shall I write about this month?!” Then, me and Daniela went off course and started discussing some of the conversations we’ve had with customers over the last week, and we just marvelled, as we often do, at the stories we have been told and we thought - That is what we will write about! Our customers!
Nowadays, probably even more so in the last couple of years, we live in more and more of a faceless society. We order online, or we go to shops and often leave without even making eye contact with someone, let alone having a conversation. Shopping has become quite clinical. And when it comes to the world of online shopping we do not even see where we are buying from, we often assume that everything just comes from a big warehouse where people are packing and shipping 24 hours a day. Now, don’t get me wrong, mail order is brilliant - without it, we wouldn’t have survived the last three years - but we often find that we “lose touch” with our customers – and this is one of the things we love about our shop, getting to meet, know and chat with our customers. Our newer customers who have only ever shopped online with us, maybe cannot picture where their coffee is packed and processed – well, it is all prepared and packed in store.
(Orders being prepared, packed and collected below)
For as much as we need to, and have to - we have not expanded, for many reasons. We still operate entirely from our shop in Soho - and it is not a big shop - and many of you who have visited us can confirm that we pack all the mail orders in the shop, you often see the orders all lined up waiting to be closed. We often speak to customers who have no idea that we run solely from our store. And more so, we are a family-run business not a corporate company.
Our shop is often celebrated, the history, our family, but there is a much more important side that is not mentioned or celebrated - we wouldn’t be here without you all, our wonderful customers.
Whilst we may be a unique shop, we also like to think that we have a unique customer base. We are so often blown away by the kind words we receive from our lovely customers, we are always so touched that so many take the time to send us a message. Often people are more motivated to write negatively, so to take the time to write something beautiful and kind is so moving. There have been times over the last two years when your words have moved Daniela and me to tears.
But what blows us away even more are the fabulous stories we hear from our customers and the rich history our customers share with the store.
We have a customer who orders from us once a year, every November, and he called us last Saturday, and I was so excited that I got to take his call and order, after I exclaimed, “Now it is Christmas!” He is elderly and during our chat, he marvelled at how we always get his coffee to him - he said, even during two world wars he and his family managed to receive our coffee! Can you imagine, his family has been shopping with us all the way back to at least the very early 1900’s - maybe even as we started?
Daniela had a chat with a customer in the shop the other day who reminisced that he had been shopping with us for over 50 years! He remembers coming in and being served by our grandfather.
I have been told by quite a few customers that they started buying our coffee back in the 70s/80s when they were students. Glad we could help all the studying!
And then there are the beautiful stories of customers who remember coming shopping here with their grandparents or parents and who now visit as adults, perhaps with their children.
If anyone would like to send us your stories and memories of the store, and if you have any photos of the shop through the years - even better, if you are coming to visit the shop ask for me and tell me your story personally (though I do ask to wait until the New Year when we will have more time). With your permission I would love to share your stories and memories in a future blog - obviously names won’t be published if you do not wish them to be. And if you are visiting and are happy to, we can have our photo together for the blog!
As this is the last blog of 2022 may I wish you all a very peaceful and happy Christmas and New Year. Thank you for reading our blogs and engaging in them, thank you for all your support.
From Marisa, Daniela, Paul and all at Algerian Coffee Stores. xxx