The coffee shop with no employees

How would this idea work in your neighborhood?

In Valley City, North Dakota, the Vault is getting its share of national exposure this week because it doesn’t have a barista. It doesn’t have any employees. It operates on the honor system, the Fargo Forum reports.

The attention started with a single TV report a week ago.

“I think it all just comes down to the kind of people,” David Brekke, who owns the shop said. “I think it would work in any place that has a tight-knit community of morally minded people.”

He says the national media has missed the point by focusing on the honor system and not the type of resident who lives in his city.

When he gets ripped off, it’s usually teenagers stealing pop, he says. But he doesn’t call the cops. He just shows them surveillance video.

“Teenagers have also been some of our best customers,” he said. “They generally pay very honestly, and sometimes they even pay extra to make up for their stealing friends.”

The main problem is the business loses money.

  • MrE85

    My wife and I noticed the sign for this coffee shop when we were walking around in Valley City recently. Now I wish we would have stopped in.

  • John

    1) Who cleans the place and refills the Keurig (ick) stands if there are no employees?
    2) How in the world can you be losing money at a place where you aren’t paying anyone to be there all the time? (Perhaps there is some value in having a person make your coffee, rather than paying more for instant).

    I am glad they are not getting ripped off by people stealing. That’s good news. I somehow think this wouldn’t fly in my neighborhood.

    • MrE85

      1) I presume it is Brekke and his wife, who as owners would not be classified as “employees.”
      2) Even without employees, he still has to pay rent, utilities, and buy supplies for the shop. Also, he may not have figured the pricing correctly to make a profit.
      I’m not sure where he’s getting his pastries from. There are no longer any independent bakeries left in Valley City. There was one across the street called Ole’s that was great, but it closed years ago. There is also an ice cream parlor on the same street that sells espresso drinks.

    • Jack

      Maybe he can’t cover rent and utilities. That’s a quick way to lose money.