Alamo Drafthouse Points the Way to Small Businesses

Last year a good friend of mine, who lives in Austin, told me about a peculiar, but certainly original movie theatre called Alamo Drafthouse.  Today, as I was reading the latest issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, I stumbled upon an interesting article on this Texas based chain.  Despite the fact that I have never had the pleasure of visiting one of their locations, my friend's rave review of its business model and the details in the article, spurred me to research further and eventually to write this post.

Alamo Drafthouse is after all a great success story.  Tim League founded the company in 1997 with barely a month of operating capital.  Mr League's unique vision and obsession with providing an improved and original customer experience turned that small operation into a fast growing business.  Today, Alamo Drafthouse has 10 operational locations and 8 under construction or restoration and it enjoys the highest revenue per movie screen in the industry.

Mr. League himself highlights the importance of providing a remarkable experience in the pages of Entrepreneur Magazine: "You need to think about the customer experience all the way through, from buying a ticket to arriving in the parking lot to watching the movie to leaving. [...]  So much of what we do is trying to make the Alamo experience special."

Indeed, Alamo Drafthouse has excelled at reshaping the customer experience in a movie theater.  The company focused on delivering additional value before and during the movie presentation with innovations like celebrity appearances, live music shows, interactive participation events like sing-along and quote-along screenings,and themed presentations.  Additionally, it redesigned its theatres with cabaret-style tables stretching in front of each row and auxiliary aisles between rows to allow waiters to serve made-to-order food and beverages directly to customer's seats throughout the movie presentation.

Mr. League in the same Entrepreneur article shares the origin of all these innovations: "We set out to build the model that we wanted.  We were movie fans, and we thought about all the little things that either pissed us off about other theater experiences or would get us really excited." 

As a movie fan, Mr. League, was able to relate with his customers and truly walk in the customer's shoes, developing a retail concept that delivers a differentiating customer experience.  Most importantly he was able to provide a case study for other small business owners, who erroneously see the concept of developing a unique customer experience as a goal that can only be achieved by big corporations.


  1. Excellent article. Alamo Drafthouse has well theater for the peoples to entertainment, did at re-shaping the customer experience. The company targeted on providing additional value before and during the film demonstration with enhancements like superstar performances, live music reveals, entertaining contribution activities like sing-along and quote-along tests,and designed demonstrations. Market Research Companies

  2. Dear Ross,

    Thanks a lot for your comment. I agree with you. Alamo Drafthouse is certainly an innovator in its industry and was able to create a compelling store concept and an exceptional customer experience. It ultimately provides superior value to its customers, as you point out.


    Eli Zybert