Ever heard of a self-service coffee shop? Yeah, me neither. That's because they don't exist — until now. A new establishment in North Dakota called The Vault is changing the way we look at not only coffee shop business models, but our own capacity to refrain from robbing people blind if no one is looking (or at least, to refrain from walking away without paying). The Vault, which is potentially the first business of its kind, is making waves for its utter trust in its customers. Patrons get their own drinks and then are either expected to swipe their cards or drop the correct amount of cash in a receptacle.
What might surprise you is that it's paying off. The Vault was founded by Kimberly and David Brekke, who were looking for a way to run a coffee shop that didn't involve paying employees. So far, David says, customers are actually paying about 15 percent more than the list prices. If there are people who sneak a latte and a scone out of there without paying, it's hardly the Brekkes' loss. Here's what it looks like:
From what I can see in the video below, you choose your preferred Keurig cup flavor, let the machine do its magic, and then make a payment. Then you can sit back, relax, drink your coffee, and enjoy one of The Vault's books. It has a large collection of reading material, as well as two pianos. The feeling I get is that The Vault has the potential to turn into an awesome community hangout for those who might not otherwise have the space. Group meetings? The Vault. Board games and pastries? The Vault. A reading club? The Vault. You get my point. The possibilities are, if not endless, at least larger than your average Starbucks might offer.
Here's a KVRR story on the topic:
This makes me wonder if self-serve coffee shops will now become a phenomenon popular outside of North Dakota. I don't see why it shouldn't, especially in college towns. Charlottesville, VA, where I go to school, would use the heck out of one of these. (And we're bound by the honor code not to steal coffee anyway, so...isn't this inevitable?) I mean, if goat coffee shops are a thing, why not these?