Wayne Hart closed the doors to Latte Da Coffee Café for the last time after watching his small business slowly gravitate towards the large corporate chain Starbucks.
“It has been for sale for the past six months and as of (yesterday) one person is very interested. There have been several offers on the place but nothing is set in stone as of yet,” Wayne Hart, owner of Latte Da, said.
Latte Da opened six years ago and did not run into complications until a Starbucks opened on campus. Currently Hart seeks a potential buyer to re-open the shop and revitalize the business to its original status when it first opened.
The restaurant’s doors remain closed to students and the regular crowd until a viable offer is negotiated. Currently, no information has been released on a potential buyer.
“Wayne invested his personal life into this shop, and I know it has bothered him to close it,” Preston Cox, Georgia Southern University alumni and former manager of Latte Da, said.
Latte Da is not a chain and did not sustain consistent marketing and advertising to drive students into the cafe, Cox said.
“Before Wayne bought the store there was great business, but whenever the school opened a Starbucks on campus business started to decline,” Cox said.
Three different stores located in the same plaza as Latte Da have moved in recent months because of the low amount of traffic this location attracts.
“I did see they were moving to another location. A couple businesses have closed over here like Label Stalker, Salt Life and Cheeky’s are moving to another location,” Tiffany Kendrick, manager of Dish, said.
The location of the coffee shop is across the street from campus by The Woodlands but it did not attract enough customers, Lydia Luke, senior writing and linguistics major, said.
“The location did not get enough business and not enough college students went there. It wasn’t the best spot especially when it is across from a busy road,” Luke said.
Chain restaurant’s marketing overpower Statesboro’s small businesses, which is why they end up closing, Lydia Luke, senior writing and linguistics major, said.
“I think small businesses are great, but I don’t think they are publicized through the campus as much. Students look for advertisements and chain restaurants have stronger ties with the university for that,” Luke said.
Many small businesses end up closing because they aren’t selling enough of their product, Jason Anderson, area director for GSU’s small business and development center, said.
“The reason small businesses close usually come back to cash. There is not enough money to pay the bills, not enough money coming in and not enough sales,” Anderson said. “Small business failure is typical, and it’s pretty typical all over.”
“I think has always been some weird disconnect between Statesboro and the college. Over time Georgia Southern changed their dynamic into a business rather than a university,” Cox said.
Many college communities adapt and change to their market, which is what the Athens community has done, Cox said.
Cox said, “There are plenty of coffee shops like Latte Da in Athens and they are successful. You don’t see this kind of disconnect in other college towns.”