Atlanta's 11 Least Influential People: No. 7
Creative Loafing's countdown of Atlantaâ€™s 11 Least Influential People is a tribute to women and men everywhere struggling to meet the challenges of life in a modern American city.
The top five will be revealed in the next print edition of Creative Loafing, which hits newsstands Thursday, Nov. 8.
(photo by Joeff Davis)
By day, Bridgette Vassar works as a software manager for a department store chain.
At night and on weekends, she works for herself.
In April she opened Silk: A Smoothie CafÃ©, a smoothie and dessert shop on the north edge of Decatur's Oakhurst neighborhood.
Vassar's vision is ambitious. She pictures Silk as part refreshment stop, part 18th-century French salon; a place where gym rats can stop in for a fruit smoothie spiked with protein powder, and others can sip wine, debate world affairs, or at least snicker at the Harper's Index. Eventually, she plans to expand to multiple locations.
Before any of that can happen, though, Vassar needs to get over a big hurdle.
She needs some customers. Business is very slow.
"I thought, 'I've got everything, and it's ready, and the people will come.' But this is not Field of Dreams. Getting people in here has been the biggest problem."
Vassar blames the shop's slow start on a number of factors.
"We didn't have a well-developed marketing plan."
As a start-up without a well-established brand behind her, she explains, she has to work extra-hard to get neighbors to take a chance on her.
Location is also an issue. Oakhurst is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, but her shop is away from most of the foot traffic. She looked into renting spaces in pedestrian-heavy Little Five Points and Virginia-Highland, but could not afford them.
"I should know [if she'll stay in business there] within 18 to 24 months," she says.
Judgment day may come sooner, however, as she recently found out that a Boise, Idaho-based coffee house and bistro, Moxie Java, plans to open its first metro Atlanta store on the opposite end of her retail strip.
"They have smoothies on their home page," she sighs. "It gives me pause. I don't think two places like that can survive here."
Visit Fresh Loaf on Wednesday morning for No. 6 on our countdown of Atlanta's 11 Least Influential People.