Jess Patterson’s decision to slash the price of a go-to menu item at his cafe on Sullivan’s Island came from, at first, a moment of frustration.
Patterson, who owns The Co-Op, was looking over his budget in early May and he honed in on the $2,000 per month he was spending to advertise with Google and Yelp.
“I felt like I was paying for them to sort of just say, ‘Come to the Co-op,’” he said. “If I’m going to pay $24,000 a year for something, I would rather it benefit me more and benefit the customers more.”
"So, I said ... Let's just take our dollars elsewhere,'" he said.
Patterson resolved to stop paying for online ads and put the money he would've spent toward dropping the price of coffee, no matter the size of the cup or time of day, to $1. He has posted on Instagram about the change with the caption, "Let's change the way you drink coffee."
“We’re trying to start something, just by word of mouth," Patterson said.
The more he thought about it, there were other reasons behind the price change. Patterson said he had become fed up with "how crazy expensive coffee is now."
“You go to most coffee shops now and you could spend $3 or $4 for coffee," he said. "It’s just gotten out of hand.”
Patterson said dropping the price is a way of giving back to The Co-Op’s regulars by saving them a few dollars. And they're still getting quality coffee. The Co-Op serves Charleston Coffee Roasters' medium roast.
Previously, a 12-ounce cup of coffee cost $2.78 and a 16-ounce cup cost $3.33 after tax at The Co-Op. At Starbucks locations, such as the one on King Street downtown, a 16-ounce (or grande) cup of coffee costs $2.50 with tax. The same size will cost you $4.44 at Mercantile and Mash downtown. Those prices are without any add-ons.
On Sullivan’s Island, another breakfast spot — 450 Pizza Joint — serves a small coffee for $2.50 and a large coffee for $3.50.
“By selling it at that price, we’re not making money,” Patterson said. “The risk would be if people came in and just ordered $1 coffee all day, every day. I'd go out of business."
That has not been the case, so far.
"It's also been 90 degrees out," he said, adding that The Co-Op sells on average about 100 cups of coffee per day.
Patterson said he also hopes the price of coffee draws more customers in for breakfast. The cafe opens at 7 a.m. daily and serves breakfast sandwiches and espresso drinks.
“We’ve been sitting on this breakfast menu and we want people to know about it," he said. "We're seeing a lot of people come in for coffee, but they're also getting something for breakfast."
The Co-Op is perhaps best known for selling multiple flavors of frosé, so Patterson is looking for other parts of the menu to gain some attention.
“We’re sticking to it,” he said. “Besides the frosé, this has put us on the map.”
The Co-Op is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.