In college independent coffee shops were all we frequented because of the fact that they had free Wi-Fi. Since the Verizon MiFi came out I couldn’t care less what coffee shop I work out of (only on Fridays and the occasional Saturday) – that is until last month. Last month Starbucks switched to free Wi-Fi and since I usually worked out of Starbucks (the paid Wi-Fi meant more tables were available on average) it has become pretty difficult to find a coffee shop to work at.
The coffee shop industry is undergoing another change, the small shops are starting to charge for the internet access (at least from what I am seeing in Portland and Seattle) while the big guy (Starbucks) is making it free. This just means that more people are going to be remote working out of Starbucks.
Kudos to the independent shops for being smart enough to see the change and start reacting to it – that is how you survive against a competitor like Starbucks.