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Ballater flooding paved the way for Stag Coffee Roasters

Christopher Bruce
Christopher Bruce

Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Christopher Bruce, who runs Ballater firm Roaring Stag Coffee Roasters

How and why did you start in business?

We originally started in business with a tearoom in 2006 which we sold in 2011, when we opened a shop in Ballater.

After the flooding in 2015, the shop suffered badly from the after-effect of the decline in visitors and it was no longer viable as a business.

By chance, we managed to secure a business unit in Ballater which we were originally going to use for our other business, Tweedie Beasties. A friend suggested roasting coffee and it grew legs from there.

How did you get to where you are today?

My wife, Moira, and I were struggling to bring up four boys on the minimum wage. Both our sets of parents were self-employed so it looked like a good idea to take the plunge in 2006 and buy a tearoom in Braemar, where we live.

This was a completely new experience for us, having never worked in this environment before, but with a lot of hard work it was successful and we sold the business on.

We got the self-employed bug from there and haven’t looked back since. Moira is an accountant so I don’t have to worry about that side of things, and I am originally a joiner but can turn my hand to most things.

Who helped you?

This business is a partnership between Moira and I, so we both have been supported by our families.

All of the boys have worked with us at one time or another until they have gone off to pursue their own careers.

With regard to our newest venture, this is the first time we have sought support from various parties. Business Gateway has been very helpful and Aberdeenshire Council supported us with a grant.

We also have the ongoing help from the Federation of Small Businesses, which we have used for all of our ventures.

What has been your biggest mistake?

Our biggest mistake over the years has been working without days off, however, we are still doing that so haven’t learned anything.

What is your greatest achievement?

It is that we have grown our businesses successfully and are not afraid to start something completely new. We pride ourselves on good customer relations, which we hopefully have achieved with the amount of repeat custom we get.

If you were in power in Government, what would you change?

I would lower council tax for the elderly – it’s a huge burden on those who have paid tax all their lives. I would also increase funding for business start-ups to be fairly distributed across the country, instead of being focused in large cities.

Finally, I would increase help for young people – especially those who find themselves homeless.

What do you still hope to achieve?

The list is endless – we have so much we want to do in this business – but mainly it is to promote our brand, not just in coffee but other areas as well.

We want to build a business that our children could be involved with in the future. I would also like a holiday home in Florida.

What do you do to relax?

We have very little time to relax but I like to walk the dog at 5.30 each morning when no-one is around. It allows me to clear my mind and think about the day ahead.

What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on the TV?

Right now, we are catching up with Outlander.

What do you waste your money on?

Cars, bikes and anything else with wheels.

How would your friends describe you?

Willing to help anyone out.

What would your enemies say about you?

Grumpy at times? I am also very stubborn? Hopefully, I don’t have any enemies.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

A transit van, but I’d like a go on a V12 Artic lorry.

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