City Beat

The Trade is more than just a new coffee shop, it’s a place to meet, sip

The next great idea to come out of Sacramento could get hatched over a game of pingpong on the second floor of a midtown building. There’s little doubt coffee will also be involved.

At least that’s how Matt Kennedy pictures it. He’s the co-founder of The Trade, a new coffee shop and co-working space on K Street.

Kennedy and his fiancée, Amanda Sanders, opened The Trade a couple of months ago. Kennedy’s been involved in a few business ventures around town – he was one of the founders of Heckler Magazine, a startup that covers snowboarding, skateboarding and music. He eventually went out on his own and found himself doing a lot of work in coffee shops.

That’s where the concept for The Trade was discovered. “Wouldn’t it be great to have a coffee shop where you could hold a meeting?” Kennedy thought.

Coffee is luring a lot of people to The Trade. They serve it with beans from Blue Bottle Coffee, a roaster based in Oakland. One of the drinks Sanders makes is an iced New Orleans-style coffee infused with chicory, inspired by the drink served at the famous Café Du Monde. Freeport Bakery is making pastries for the shop.

Lots of small businesses and startups are already using The Trade as a home base. Last week, two entrepreneurs banged away at laptops in booths while another company used a conference room to interview job candidates.

Sacramento Republic FC has held meetings there. Kennedy said sales reps from Nike will meet there in the next few days and Apple is conducting a series of free events with tips for using the company’s gadgets.

One idea that has already been developed at The Trade is a new app called Requested. It lets diners name their price at local restaurants and coffee shops. Kennedy said his shop is getting a lot of business from the app’s customers.

There has been some talk of branding midtown as a tech zone, like its own Silicon Valley campus. It’s bike-friendly and there are lots of bars and restaurants. But some in the neighborhood cringe at forcing that kind of effort with a brand. They argue it’s best to let the movement happen on its own.

“It has to be organic,” Kennedy said.

It took a lot of effort for The Trade to open its doors. Kennedy had signed a lease at one location, but the property owner pulled out. Kennedy was told by the city his permits would cost $1,200 and could be handled in one day. Four months, many building code-related improvements – and, Kennedy said, a lot more cash – later, he finally had the approvals he needed. How can we expect other small startups to survive that kind of ordeal?

Kennedy said that’s where The Trade can help. Small startups can’t afford to rent out a conference room in a big hotel to pitch investors. Permanent meeting and workspace also can be expensive.

You can rent space in The Trade for $75 a month. At that price, Kennedy thinks The Trade can be a true incubator.

“We need to harbor people with great ideas,” he said.