In our business education classes we ask the villagers, “Where is there pain in your village? What kinds of problems do people have? How could you solve that problem for people in a way that is profitable?”
This is the seed bed of all good business ideas.
Taking our own advice to heart, we also looked around this community where we have set up our office and base of operations. What are the needs of this community? How could we solve problems for them in a profitable way?
Well, this town has a high turnover of expats, people come to volunteer, or work for an NGO for a few years, and then go back home. This town is also somewhat remote, with a difficult mountain pass for trucks to drive through, and only intermittent flights coming in. This means everything here costs a bit more, and some items are hard to come by.
When you arrive you need basic items for your house, beds, kitchen counters, stoves, refrigerators, clothing storage, etc. Exorbitant sums are spent on these basic items. Good quality is even more expensive. Then people leave and try to sell off all of their things before they go, hoping to recoup some of their investment.
As we set up house hear I was heard to whine to my husband, more than once, “Man I miss secondhand stores.”
It took a while before we made the connection. Pain = business opportunity
If we missed secondhand stores, and wanted a place to find inexpensive household items, there were probably others also.
Thus was born the Charis Consignment Shop and Coffee Bar (Like us on Facebook), your one stop shop for secondhand items.
We needed to rent office space anyway. Why not in a building with store space downstairs?
Donations have already started coming in. We built a coffee counter out of packing pallets. We’re setting up donated items on secondhand shelves.
We’re selling baked goods made by a baker in one of the villages that we’re training. We’re selling hand crafts by local artisans.
Our coffee is sourced right here in Thailand, organic and fair traded, carefully roasted by a entrepreneur and friend in Rayong. The home cured bacon is amazing! If you’re ever in Mae Sot, please stop by.