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As retail retracts in West Michigan, Lansing-based Biggby Coffee continues to grow.  Franchise Manager Tony Zeigler discussed the company’s growth


What has Biggby’s growth in Michigan been like over the past year?


We’ve had another record year for new franchise sales. We currently have 102 stores open across eight states throughout the Midwest and Southeast, and we have more than 50 store under contract to open during the next 12-18 months.


For 2009, we are looking to continue our expansion throughout Michigan as well as target specific markets in Indiana,Ohio and Illinois, such as Indianapolis, South Bend, Ft. Wayne, Columbus, Cleveland, and the Chicago suburbs.


Three years ago, we had just two stores in Grand Rapids.  Today we have 18 stores in the area and give more scheduled to open here during the next few months.


How has Biggby’s faced competitors, such as Starbucks?


We are always conscious of what our competitors are doing; however, we continue to implement our strategic plan of developing specific markets in the Midwest and Southeast.  When we enter a new market, we quickly add multiple locations, which increases brand recognition and customer loyalty.


How do you explain Biggby’s expansions in a tough economy and with retail struggling this year?


Since we see our customers on a regular basis—often more than once per day—we become part of their daily routine, and we tend to develop close relationships with them as a result. In addition, as customers make choices on where to spend their discretionary income, they typically eliminate expenses such as daily lunches out or expensive dinners before they eliminate they eliminate their daily coffee?


What are your current expectations for 2009?


Based on our current momentum and trade data that supports the fact that coffee is the fastest-growing segment in the restaurant industry, we expect another year of exceptional growth in 2009.


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