Coffee Shop Uses Honor System to Charge Customers

A coffee shop in North Dakota relies on honesty and good old fashioned human decency when it comes to charging customers for their product.

Stop laughing — not everyone is a soulless despot hellbent on dragging the rest of humanity into an abyss of misery (which I know is exactly how you feel every morning before you have your first cup of coffee). David and Kimberly Brekke run a coffee shop called The Vault in Valley City, North Dakota. The shop operates out of a renovated bank with drinks offered on what used to be a teller counter. Via the Associated Press:

Coffee lovers can choose java from a commercial brewer, complete with gourmet creams and flavorings, or individual servings from a Keurig brewing system, or K-Cups. There also are soft drinks and homemade pastries.

This unusual setup has given customers a sense of ownership, helped revitalize the city's downtown — and, in the first 10 months of the business, brought in about 15 percent more money than the asking price.

Like most coffee shops, The Vault features local artwork and offers free WiFi. Most of the furniture is donated by locals. The shop doesn't take I.O.U.s. but customers can pay with credit card, cash or check. David Brekke said this kind of system (which also encourages patrons to round up or round down when it comes to shelling out exact change for a purpose) is perfectly natural to him.

He grew up in a small town in Minnesota where one of his neighbors used to leave corn on the cob in the yard with a cardboard box as cash register. "Nobody ever took the box with the money in it," Brekke said.

"I think that people who haven't grown up in a small, tight-knit community like this are very surprised by honesty," Brekke said.

Image via Shutterstock.