See if you can figure out what I'm hinting at here.
This past weekend, which I effectively spent in its entirety on the east side, I hit up Dewey's in Shaker Square for some coffee. They were moderately busy -- not a line out the door, but the folks behind the counter weren't slacking here. I probably had to wait 7-8 minutes before I had my turn to order, and then another 4-5 minutes to get the coffee.
So, in all, not an extraordinary amount of waiting, but enough to have plenty of time to scan about the place as I tried to pass the time without looking impatient.
First thing I noticed was the anti-cell phone button on one of the employee's hats. Then a sign about cell phone usage. I remembered reading a long-ish memo taped somewhere or other in Dewey's on a previous visit that explained in slight detail the manager's position on why using your cell phone and being served coffee were two things that would never occur simultaneously at Dewey's.
It didn't bother me then, and it didn't bother me this weekend. In fact, I appreciate the stand. A friend of mine manages a Starbucks in the financial district in San Francisco and has exhaustively and emotionally lectured me on why talking on your cellphone and placing an order at a cafe is abusive and immoral and I'm pretty well convinced.
Anyway, a few moments later, when it was my turn, I ordered a large coffee to go with the bottle of water I'd snagged from a cooler, and then handed my debit card to the cashier.
I should say I attempted to hand her my debit card, as she shrunk back like it was a poisonous snake, and then informed me that it was against store policy to allow anything other than cash for purchases of less than $5. I wasn't terribly surprised, as I know that the charges on some credit cards cuts out of the owner's profit, but I've been encountering this disclaimer less and less, it seems. Still, I understood and, since I didn't have any cash, I grabbed something from the adjacent cooler of baked goods. At this point I was officially a +$5 sale, and the cashier was now legally allowed to do business me, according to the laws of the owner's domain.
She then went to work on grabbing my coffee, and while I waited, I noticed a new longish memo nearby. This one explained to anyone interested in reading why free music night was no longer going to happen at Dewey's, and cast the blame for cancellation on recent problems with profit margins.
I do not at all fault any store owner for thinking in bottom-line math. It makes perfect sense. That is how they should think.
As a customer, though, I was struck by two thoughts about this store, at about the same time.
1) Boy do these folks have a lot of rules governing how you can purchase items from them. It makes it sort of inconvenient to be a customer here.
2) This is a perfect location for an independent cafe, with all the other nearby Shaker Square businesses, the rapid stop, and the weekly farmers markets. And there doesn't seem to be much by way of competition in the immediate vicinity. How on earth can they be hurting?
Now do you see where I'm going with this?
What if, maybe, by some magic, points #1 and #2 were linked together.
Hmm. The market bears what it bears, and maybe a petit dictatorship cum coffee shop isn't the soundest of business plans.
Maybe. But what do I know. I'm an AT&T customer who has to pay hundreds more for an iphone than anyone else as a "reward" of sorts for being a loyal customer for 6 years.
3 weeks ago