Cafe owner thrives with no-pricing policy

no_price_cafeI hang out at a local café (you may have noticed I use many imaginative dialogues at the beginning of posts and they’re almost always in a café). I also do some of my own work at the café plus volunteering a little marketing and promotion—basically, I like the place.

However, this creeping, crawling economic downturn (aka recession or crunch) hit the owner of Java Street Café  pretty hard. I’ve spent hours talking business with him and watched as a bright and friendly man became progressively morose and extremely exhausted (when a business has hard times, paying employees becomes a problem and the owner has to not only run the business but literally Work  it).

Months went by, things getting worse, while the owner, Sam, in spite of the grueling conditions, continued  to try various ideas to attract customers…

Finally, last week, an idea he’d been experimenting with became a what-the-hell—”I can’t lose more than I already have”—Decision:

Take All The Prices Off The Menu—let people pay whatever they  feel is a Fair Price!

Sam had his back against the wall, he was willing to try just about anything, and he “happened” to choose and made a commitment to act  on what could seem like a very crazy idea…

That was last week…

Since then, he’s been interviewed on CNN twice, phone interviewed on MSNBC and Fox, appeared on all four of the local channels, been on three out-of-state radio talk shows, will be appearing in a morning cooking segment on the local Fox affiliate, and received calls of thanks from three other states and Canada…

As if that weren’t enough, the blogosphere is starting to warm up to the story and it’s on the edge of tipping into the viral realm.

Why?

Because it’s “crazy” and unusual?

Nope.

That may have been the initial and conscious decision of the media but, after watching it happen and, especially, watching his customers react, the real and deeper reason for all the interest certainly seems to be related to a nearly archaic principle—Business Ethics…

Sam’s customer’s have a variety of reactions when he takes their order then says, “O.K., what do you think is a fair price for what you just ordered ?”:

“Huh?”

“Me?”

“What’s your usual price?”

“Oh, my! I have to think  about it?”

“You’re kidding, right?

Sam’s not kidding, they do have to think about it, his “usual” price is now “your price”, and, when the day is done, the under-payers and the over-payers even out and he’s collecting what he used to get when he had prices…

Of all the various reactions, my personal favorite, and the one that sings  of ethics in business during hard times, is what the woman from Missouri said, when she called to thank Sam for his decision:

“After I saw the story on CNN, I cried…”

Spiritual Quote:

“As a practical step in contributing to a dialogue about development and social transformation that explicitly takes account of spiritual values and perspectives, some 100 influential development organizations, international and government agencies, religious representatives, and academics recently gathered in New Delhi to participate in a colloquium on the theme of Science, Religion and Development. The primary goal of the event was to explore how a unified interaction between scientific methods and religious insights can promote the building of human capacity, particularly in the areas of governance, education, technology and economic activity.”
2001 Jun 11, Universal House of Justice, Overcoming Corruption

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The Search For Truth

I search for news that I can comment on while raising the issues to the level of Principle—reaching the truth by climbing out of the mud…

Most media and almost all politics are miring swamps.

From the Bahá’í World News Service: Iranian media attacks on Baha’is and Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi seek to stir “irrational fears and prejudices”

From The Huffington Post: The Media’s Problem Of “False Balance” Showing Itself In Electoral Map Analyses

From the Lancaster Eagle Gazette: Candidates taking low road: Dirty politics is never helpful

From the Tampa Tribune: Truth, Please

Often, I find refuge from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” in fiction. I am a poet and many would claim that poetry is fiction, along with myth and tradition . . . Contemplate these quotes:

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
Stephen King

My favorite author, C. J. Cherryh, spins beautiful tales, taking media, politics, poetry, fiction, and myth to realms that reveal truth more clearly than most any media or political source available.

Consider these quotes from this multiple award-winning author:

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”

“Deal with the Devil if the Devil has a constituency – and don’t complain about the heat.”

“Trade isn’t about goods. Trade is about information. Goods sit in the warehouse until information moves them.”

“We’re in the hands of lunatics.”
“Of financiers. Far worse”

“The interests of all humans are interlocked…and politics is no more than a temporal expression of social mathematics.”

“Ignorance killed the cat, sir. Curiosity was framed.”

Want to join a community that honors and discusses this author’s work? Travel to the Realm of Shon’jir !

Today’s Spiritual Quote:

“Oh! why will man, the disobedient child of God, who should be an example of the power of the spiritual law, turn his face away from the Divine Teaching and put all his effort into destruction and war?
“My hope is that in this enlightened century the Divine Light of love will shed its radiance over the whole world, seeking out the responsive heart’s intelligence of every human being; that the light of the Sun of Truth will lead politicians to shake off all the claims of prejudice and superstition…”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 150

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