We love our student customer base. However, lately we have experienced problems with “campers.” This lovely term was coined by some food service professional to refer to people who take up seating and WiFi in an establishment for a long period of time without purchasing anything. Small businesses, such as ours, are not equipped to support the study habits of campers.
Personally, I don’t understand the concept of studying at a business without purchasing anything. As an alumnus of the University of Oklahoma, I know that there is no shortage of places on campus to study undisturbed and without the expectation of making a purchase. If you enjoy going to a business and appreciate their space, you should want to support them!
What I’ve struggled with as the general manager of Crimson & Whipped Cream is how to approach customers about this. We try to change our WiFi password every day, but people still manage to get it without making a purchase. I’ve thought about making a sign for the door, but I don’t want to get the wording wrong and turn away potential customers. I’ve also considered trying to establish a time limit for our seating and WiFi, but we have many loyal customers who hang out at the shop for hours and make multiple purchases and I would hate to alienate them.
Our business has grown so fast in the last few months, but our space hasn’t. I’m trying to find a way to accommodate those who want to sit and hang out for a few hours with a textbook, a friend, or a date without losing business because our seating is so limit and taken up by people who aren’t making any purchases. At this point, I’m open to customer suggestions! How can we maintain an inviting atmosphere while dissuading campers from taking up our space?
Ashley “Three” Goins
GM of Crimson & Whipped Cream