T Nation

Bubble Tea for the Win


#1

Anyone fans of bubble tea?

Im thinking about starting up a bubble tea shop in an area where most have probably never tried it.

I love the stuff and think I might be on to something.

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#2

I like it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. I can see a niche bubble tea shop doing quite well and being very marketable in the right place though. Where are you located?


#3

This is always a gamble.

I live in an area that’s prime location for bubble tea - an urban setting near several college campuses which have a large population of international (Asian) students, guaranteeing a baseline of business from the Asian students plus a lot of American students who try the stuff and love it - and there are at least three or four that I can think of off the top of my head. So around here there’s plenty of it.

However, if you open one in a place where most people have never heard of or tried it…well, the pro is that you’ll have no immediate competition, but the con is that you’ll be starting with no reliable base of customers, and early on you’ll just be hoping that some people wander in to try it.

Here’s a parallel for you: a few years ago, my then-girlfriend (now my wife) and I were in a long-distance relationship and she was in a city with no good yoga studios to speak of. We bantered a little about the possibility of permanently relocating there and opening a yoga studio. As we considered it, though, we realized that even though we love yoga and expected that providing such a service would fill a major gap in that community…who knows if anyone down there would care about yoga? We suspected that there actually would NOT be much of a customer base, and were not in a financial position to risk much on the venture.


#4

@max13 : in a smallish country town in Australia.

@ActivitiesGuy : not that many Asian’s here and a town where most younger people with half a brain leave when young to pursue an education. So I suppose my clientele is limited straight away. Was thinking I could maybe sell some of those Asian baked goods as well. Not sure if my idea is a good one, but with some decent marketing maybe Im in with a chance. Thinking of maybe trying the idea out at the local Sunday market to see what interest it attracts.

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#5

I don’t mean to sound so anti-entrepreneurial: if you have some cash to spare, or you’re willing to take a chance, by all means go for it. Just make sure you’ve thought all the way through all of the pros and cons before jumping in with a “Hey, this stuff is pretty good and there’s no shop selling it here” idea. Think through all the expenses (the rental cost necessary for a retail space, staffing the restaurant, the logistics of getting your supplies, etc) and give yourself a realistic estimate of how much profit you can clear. Most startups, especially restaurants and coffee shops and the like, are not profitable early on so make sure that you have cash to burn and/or some patient investors to help you out.


#6

@ActivitiesGuy pretty much covered everything. [quote=“ActivitiesGuy, post:3, topic:221870”]
I live in an area that’s prime location for bubble tea - an urban setting near several college campuses which have a large population of international (Asian) students, guaranteeing a baseline of business from the Asian students plus a lot of American students who try the stuff and love it - and there are at least three or four that I can think of off the top of my head. So around here there’s plenty of it.
[/quote]

This is really the target area for bubble tea. I live in NY and it is VERY popular among Asians, and upper-class white college educated types. Its a pretty niche-y product and if I had to venture a guess, would say it would be difficult to market as a main attraction anywhere else.


#7

Too sugary for me I dont drink the stuff.


#8

Why not open a truck or cart instead? Would be cheaper.


#9

Think picks and shovels. (1)

If you believe bubble tea will be a big seller in your town, find a manufacturer of the tapioca balls and other ingredients and approach them about being an importer of their product. Go to existing tea shops and Asian restaurants and markets and see if you can persuade them to carry your line of goods/sell bubble tea using your products.

I don’t know if there are machines involved in making the product at the consumer level but you can purchase and lease the machines to your retail store customers. There’s lots of different ways to make money off of bubble tea. Opening a new, dedicated establishment is the least desirable one.

(1) Investopedia: A strategy where investments are made in companies that are providers of necessary equipment for an industry, rather than in the industry’s end product. A pick-and-shovel play, in practice, could be within the oil industry; an investor would purchase stock in a company that manufactures seismic data equipment that exploration and production (E&P) companies need to find new oil and gas deposits, rather than on the E&P company itself.

The expression may have been derived from the California gold rush, where many of those who profited did so by providing the miners with picks, shovels and other equipment needed for gold mining. The idea behind pick-and-shovel plays is that, in the case of E&Ps, for example, it doesn’t matter if the E&P Company finds oil and gas or not, they will need to purchase specialized equipment either way.


#10

Thanks for the advice friends. Looks like I have some thinking and planning to do.

My other idea was opening a laundromat/dry cleaning service which this town lacks. Obviously that would be more expensive in start up costs.

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#11

How about you find the nearest laundromat and ask them for a wholesale rate to wash/dry/fold by the pound. Then you blanket your town with door hangers and business cards for Early Birds Next Day Laundry Service with free pick up and delivery. You make the difference between what you charge and what the other laundry service charges you and you never have to buy a washer, dryer, or ounce of detergent.


#12

Nice idea, although at the moment there is no such service in town

There is one dry cleaner business in town, that does work more so for the hotels etc.
If you take you personal stuff in, such as a few work shirts and a pair of pants, you will be waiting 4-5 days to get it back.

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#13

That’s why you find the nearest one.

Or go to the commercial cleaner and tell them you’re going to be bringing them 800lbs of laundry a week.


#14

i lik the idea, but as its a small town, I think they will catch on what they are doing and eventually get rid of “the middle man”.

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#15

No they won’t, you already said it takes them 4-5 days to turn around a pair of pants. That’s the beauty of the situation, you handle all the individual accounts, they just see one guy who shows up every days with a hundred pounds of laundry.

If they have the capacity, they’d love you because they get to make more money on machines that would be sitting idle otherwise.

And what’s the alternative, you renting a store front and buying a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of machines?


#16

Thanks for the advice.

But I just don’t think they have the capacity. On a few occasions when I used their service for my work shirts and pants, they took 4-5 days and did a ordinary job. Had to iron my shirts after they had been dry cleaned!

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#17

Not having the capacity, and not giving two shits about a couple pairs of pants and a few shirts isn’t the same thing. Can’t hurt to ask them.


#18

What the fuck is bubble tea?


#19

Thank you. I have no idea, either. If I had to randomly guess, I’d say an opium den. Maybe hashish.

That could make some cash.


#20

I can’t stand it it, but the wife loves it. It’s flavored tea that has tapioca balls.