SEOUL, March 18 (Korea Bizwire) – An inconspicuous cafe near Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul might be a typical place where customers would enjoy coffee or small talk with their friends over a cup of tea after lunch in the neighborhood.
What draws the eye, however, is that it changes into a different shop at night where the coffee is gone and beer takes its place. Customers expect gourmet draft beer and some snacks over which they try to let off their daily stress.
“Our shop opens as a cafe everyday selling coffee and other tea but it turns into a beer shop from 6 p.m.,” said a retired accountant, who runs the coffee business. “The other owner comes in to run the beer side of it at night. We are sharing this place for two different businesses.”
The shop was launched about one and a half years ago as the two came up with the “sharing” idea. Tapping into their own expertise both in coffee and beer, they decided to take turns running different shops in the hopes it could ease the burden of the relatively high monthly rent fees.
“Who could stand the rising rent?” said his wife who is in charge of cookies and cakes that go with the coffee. “Shop sharing was a choice to lower costs, and it surely helps us much in running our coffee business.”
This is part of the steadily growing sharing trend — mostly among small self-employed businesses — as they are trying to look outside the box in experimenting with diverse unconventional ideas intended to get over persistently tough business conditions.
The sharing trend appears to be feeding on the deep-rooted worries that a business could be forced to pack up and leave due to skyrocketing rental fees ironically that take place after the successful business boost to the overall property market, experts said.
Unlike the economic slowdown that individuals cannot do anything about, these businesses are becoming more active in trying to lower the costs and this is where sharing comes in as a practical way to hedge against in case their business does not pan out as planned.
And sharing comes in various forms and in a manner that creates synergy.
A convenience store that opened about four years ago in the middle of a residential area in western Seoul might be one of many around-the-clock stores spotted nationwide but a step inside shows that it goes beyond just easy-to-cook food and affordable daily necessities.
Since the start, it has served as a local dry cleaning shop where customers can leave and pick up their clothes anytime they want, taking advantage of the 24-7 nature of the convenience store.
This has proved to be a win-win, at least so far.
A clerk said that sales have increased thanks to the “shop in shop” concept, while a customer in his 40s without identifying himself said that it is convenient and economic in that the prices are cheaper than other nearby dry cleaning services and that he can leave or pick up his clothes anytime.’