More on Aldo and the Future of Small Business

There is a "next" post up at Aldo Coffee in the Mt. Lebanon coffee store's series of "what do we do now?"

I am tempted, as I suspect some others are, to see in this episode some grand narrative of Pittsburgh's struggles. I'll hold off jumping to equally grand conclusions, but I have a metaphoric cast of mind. Aldo Coffee is not alone, and it is not unique, in the challenges it faces.

Here is a first reaction: Aldo's predicament reminds me of the problems assessed in Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma - and again in The Innovator's Solution. Aldo Coffee was a leap forward for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has caught up. The entrepreneur's instinct is to survive by doing the same -- premium coffee -- more and better: lower costs, higher margins, better service. Using evidence from a variety of contexts, including the steel industry, Christensen argues that this is likely to be a losing solution.

More later.


2 Responses to "More on Aldo and the Future of Small Business"

MH said... 7/16/2010 1:44 PM

I don't go out that way much and hadn't heard of Aldo Coffee before this. I know I'm not the target market, but I cannot figure out how so many coffee shops have stayed in business.

I did once pay more $10/pound for coffee beans. A woman was in Whole Foods pushing a new type of coffee she said was to support cooperatives in Nicaragua. Before I could stop myself, I asked if she had a kind of coffee that supported the Contras. If felt a bit guilty, so I bought some coffee from her.

Brad Fisher said... 7/19/2010 8:08 PM

Is Aldo the Rollier's of coffee, or is Rollier's the Aldo's of hardware?

Search Pittsblog

About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

Comments are moderated.
Subscribe to Pittsblog comments


Blog Archive

Header Background

Header background images licensed from (left image) lemonad and (right image) plaskota under Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 2.0 Generic licenses.


Copyright 2003-2010 Michael J. Madison - WP Theme by Brian Gardner - Blogger Blog Templates,