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Independent café bar launches “disloyalty” campaign, encouraging customers to shop local.
By Joanna Shaw
The Art of Tea café bar in Didsbury is encouraging local people to be disloyal to chain store coffee shops in the area, by offering any tea or regular coffee for £1, if customers bring in any stamped café loyalty card.
Manager Tom Scriven, who set up the business with his brother in law Philip Hayes in 2010, hopes that the disloyalty campaign will encourage the residents and visitors to Didsbury to “break from the chains”.
Tom explained to Humanity Hallows that he wanted to start the campaign in order to encourage people to try something different.
“One morning, we saw people coming into Didsbury, and they were stopping straight away and going into places like Costa and Café Nero, they were all full. It doesn’t really get going in here on a weekday until ten or eleven o’clock, so it irritated us to see so many people in those places and no one was checking out The Art of Tea, when we feel like we provide a different experience for customers.
Most chain store coffee shops have so much money behind them, whereas we have to pay for everything ourselves. This means independent businesses are at a massive disadvantage compared to the chains, so we need to think of everything that we can in order to beat them at their own game.”
The Art of Tea in itself is an eclectic, friendly café with cosy wooden décor making customers feel at home. The bookshop at the back is a hidden gem, selling a range of second hand and antique books, and there’s also a community board on the wall packed with local events and advertisements for nearby businesses.
The local businesses have been hit recently by falling sales. Just last month, well-known greengrocers Evans of Didsbury was forced to stop selling fruit and veg after forty five years, with owners stating they could not compete with the local supermarket’s low prices.
Tom told us why he thinks it’s important to support community-run local shops,
“Ultimately, with chain stores, the money flows out of the communities and into the pockets of a few individuals. Whereas The Art of Tea is run like a co-operative, and the money stays within the local area.”
When asked what he wanted to achieve from this campaign, Tom described how he wanted people to give The Art of Tea a chance,
“We want to let people know that we’re here really. You can go anywhere in the world now and get the same chain store coffee, but here we do things a bit differently. We’re a bit unique, we keep all of our money in the community, when we can, we use local businesses as our suppliers. We employ local people, and we support the community projects around Didsbury, so we feel like we’re doing a good thing.”
The Art of Tea has plenty to offer locals if they are willing to stray away from the chains. With a menu consisting of a wide range of tasty classics, vegetarian and vegan options available, and as its name states, they also specialise in a variety of herbal, fruit and classic blend loose leaf teas. There’s more to the drinks menu than tea though, they serve alcohol from 12pm, and opens as a bar in the evening, making it a perfect place for students to socialise on the weekends.
With a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2015, we think they’re already showing that their community spirit is recognised by locals.
The Art of Tea are relaunching their menu on Tuesday 18th October. Visit www.theartoftea.co.uk for contact information and bookings. You can also find the Art of Tea on Facebook and tweet them @ArtOfTeaUK.
Joanna is a first year MA student in Multimedia Journalism. Check out her blog booklifereads.tumblr.com, or follow her on Twitter @booklifereads.