Thinking inside the box: Why The Coffee Club is setting up shop in shipping containers

Thinking inside the box: Why The Coffee Club is setting up shop in shipping containers

Cafe franchise The Coffee Club has been thinking outside the box, and inside a shipping container, as it opens three new stores at Brisbane Airport.

After its Asian expansion last year, The Coffee Club is growing its Australian presence with the innovative new storefronts.

The chain opened two cafes from within the walls of old shipping containers outside the Virgin and Qantas terminals at the Brisbane Domestic Airport on June 14, with a third store due to open at the Brisbane Airport Service Centre later this month.

Franchisee George Drivas told SmartCompany the stores have been incredibly well received since they opened, with customers even stopping to take photos of the novelty storefront.

“A lot of people are asking questions. They ask, ‘are they real?’” says Drivas. “Of course they’re real!”

He says the idea arose after Brisbane Airport offered only a short five-year lease for the coveted location outside their terminals. 

“So we decided a shipping container would be great because you can pick them up and take them anywhere,” says Drivas, who has operated two other bricks-and-mortar Coffee Club franchises for the last six years.

“Because we are a grab-and-go coffee shop, we don’t need a full-size kitchen. Everything is at arm’s reach,” he says.  

Often incorporated in trendy bars, shipping containers have also been used as pop-up retail spaces in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the 2011 earthquake levelled many retail outlets.

Drivas says it is likely that the design will attract a younger demographic than those who are drawn to The Coffee Club’s suburban shopping centre stores.

“I reckon it will, it’s a funky place to be,” he says.

Despite operating within a traditional franchise model, Drivas says The Coffee Club was excited when he brought them the idea and they have been flexible around this new kind of store.

“Of course we still have the same signage and set up inside, it still has the same feel as a Coffee Club on the inside,” he says.

Drivas says he would highly recommend other franchises or independent retailers consider shipping container stores, and says the main benefits are portability and compact size.

“It’s very easy to run, easy to operate and it looks funky,” he says.

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