Earlier this year we talked about the pay-what-you-want honor system of Terra Bite Lounge in Kirkland, WA. This is the coffee shop where there are no prices for the coffee drinks, pastries, and sandwiches. Instead, customers pay whatever amount they feel is appropriate.
The Wall Street Journal today gives us an update on Terra Bite Lounge. The honor system seems to be working just fine. According to the article, daily customer counts at Terra Bite average around 200 with each customer paying $2 or $3 per order.
Let’s keep in mind the owners of Terra Bite Lounge aren’t getting rich from this coffee shop—their café breaks even. However, the owners aren’t doing this to get rich. Instead, this endeavor is more an experiment in the greater good of public honesty.
The owners of Terra Bite explain the reasoning behind their voluntary payment this way…
Terra Bite is not only an experiment into the level of public honesty, it is also a visible demonstration of that high level of honesty. I think that has some secondary benefits.
In my life, there have been times when I’ve felt like being good and honest, and other times when I’ve felt cynical. When I have felt cynical, it was usually because I felt that I was surrounded by corruption. On the other hand, when I feel that people around me are good, I feel more like being good.
Well, by existing, Terra Bite demonstrates to the public that they are surrounded by a high level of honesty. I believe that helps reduce the general level of cynicism, even for those that never visit Terra Bite.
The cafe chains base their business on the popularity of coffee. We do also; but we also base it on people’s notion of wanting to be good. I believe that this personal notion of “I am a good person” is quite universal; even people who we don’t regard as good — someone in prison, say — is often there not because they don’t have an ethical system, but because they acted out too strongly on their ethical system. So I believe we’re on solid ground basing a business on that. READ MORE
Refreshing to hear, eh?