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Java Jaay manager Helen Dunn prepares drinks on Monday. Java Jaay on Sixth Avenue Southeast and other homegrown businesses will face competition from new eateries opening at The Crossings of Decatur later this year.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Java Jaay manager Helen Dunn prepares drinks on Monday. Java Jaay on Sixth Avenue Southeast and other homegrown businesses will face competition from new eateries opening at The Crossings of Decatur later this year.

Coffee, food and competition
Local businesses face challenges with new eateries coming to Decatur

By Evan Belanger
evanb@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

New retailers coming into the Decatur area are forcing some local businesses to re-evaluate their marketing strategies.

In October, company executives will hold grand-opening ceremonies for Decatur's new Target store. Anchoring The Crossings of Decatur shopping center at Sixth Avenue and Point Mallard Parkway Southeast, Target is expected to attract a host of other national retailers.

For locally owned businesses, that means stiffer competition from retailers with large advertising budgets, low prices and high name recognition.

But some local business owners say they're not overly concerned with the new competitors.

Bunk Jackson has owned and operated the Java Jaay coffee shop on Sixth Avenue in Decatur for about five years.

He markets a number of specialty coffee drinks, smoothies, sandwiches and breakfast foods. But with two Starbucks franchises coming to town — one on Beltline Road and one inside the new Target — Jackson will soon be competing with a company that boasts more than 13,000 locations in 39 countries.

When Panera Bread Co. opens at the Crossings, he will also compete for his lunchtime business.

But given a loyal customer base, Jackson says, he does not think the newcomers will greatly impact his business.

Instead, he says, his coffee is slightly milder than Starbucks' and is prepared by hand rather than with push-button machines, creating a higher-quality taste. He also describes his sandwiches — like the cashew chicken salad — as unique, giving him an advantage over the competition.

"We always try to focus on the craftsmanship," he said.

According to Jackson, the addition of Starbucks could even help his coffee business, bringing more "coffee awareness" to local residents.

"They (Starbucks) have always been the pioneer for bringing coffee awareness to different communities," Jackson said. "We feel they'll introduce more people to coffee ... and somewhere along the line, that might actually bring us some more business."

While other local retailers don't predict competition will help their businesses, they do predict they'll be able to compete with the larger companies.

According to Reggie Owens, manager of B&B Sporting Goods on Central Parkway Southwest, even with a Hibbett Sporting Goods coming to the Crossings of Decatur, his store will stay competitive.

The Sheffield-based Hibbett chain grossed $512 million last year, but Owens says his store can always offer better prices than the competition. He also says B&B Sporting Goods offers a number of services Hibbett does not.

"Like screen printing and embroidery," he said.

Other businesses coming to Decatur soon include Old Navy, PetSmart, Rack Room Shoes, rue21, Ross Dress for Less, Lifeway Christian Store, Chili's Grill and Bar and Nails First.

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