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Coffee shop operates on honor system without employees

This Coffee Shop Trusts Its Customers

You won't find any service ratings for one coffee shop in North Dakota -- because there are no employees and the shop operates on an honor system.

"The Vault" in Valley City gives a whole new meaning to first come, first serve because everything is self-serve...which means there's no one there to make sure customers pay, either.

David Brekke and his wife, Kimberly, transformed a former bank into the coffee hot spot last October. David told KVRR they haven't broken even yet, but so far things are working out: "The thing that's amazing is that people have been extremely honest. When I add up how much has been taken and how much is in the bill at the end of the day, people are 15 percent more generous than thieving."

The couple hopes to turn the spot next door into a self-serve bakery within the next few years. Not all coffee shops get such positive feedback for a unique approach. A store in Maine was actually burned down just four months after it opened. The shop was controversial from the get-go ... because waitresses served customers topless.

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Bob July 02 2014 at 10:53 AM

If there are no employees, who refills the coffee maker when it is empty?

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1 reply
MICHELLE Bob July 02 2014 at 11:44 AM

Probably the owners.

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abudotcom July 02 2014 at 3:33 PM

Back in the mid 70's while traveling the Wisconsin Plains I came across a couple of small business that had put up a sign: " Sorry we can't be here to attend to you, please pick up what you need and place payment in this box"…All the merchandise has a sticker price ending on .00 I had never seen this again, until this story… Hope everything goes well for them…

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TripleXKimberly July 02 2014 at 1:38 PM

"So Far People Have been Extremely Honest"
I have a feeling once more people catch on about this that is all going to change sadly. Only a matter of time before someone ruins this. Coffee Anyone?.

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Joe July 02 2014 at 11:48 AM

So much for jobs....

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laptop603 July 02 2014 at 1:28 PM

The beginning of the end. You wanted 15 dollar an hour minimum wage? Guess what...they'll do it without you.

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1 reply
Lindsay laptop603 July 02 2014 at 2:54 PM

How silly. Throughout history, raising the min wage has never caused prices to raise or have never had e negative affect on the economy. In fact, what it does is create competition and less employee turnover.
Today, the min wage in today's dollars, is $4 an hour less than it was in the sixties when we had a great economy.
Do the research.

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1 reply
Judith Lindsay July 02 2014 at 6:04 PM

I've done the research and you're correct, but that's the lie that business owners perpetuate in an effort to not have to pay employees a living wage. Now not only is it the business owners but one of the political parties that is spreading that lie and IMO it's unconscionable.

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fernerobin July 02 2014 at 11:27 AM

This concept stands a better (not certain but better) chance of success because of N Dakota's ethnic make up...ie no 'giant ******* sound' of 'minorities' who will drain dry any such enterprise in other areas...such as Detroit or St Louis. You KNOW it's true.....!

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2 replies
lsmith5071 fernerobin July 02 2014 at 2:06 PM

About 25 yrs. ago my husband & I were visiting Hawaii. We stopped into a nice little cafe for breakfast somewhere out in the country. I have forgotten which island. We were given a menu and noticed that there were no prices. When we asked about that we were told to please enjoy our meal and then pay what we thought it was worth. Everything was delicious.

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dgoffnspector fernerobin July 02 2014 at 5:30 PM

Please, shoot yourself in the face, first chance you get.

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ergt86 July 02 2014 at 8:07 PM

In North Dakota this does work. I remember when I was a youngster people put wagons in front of their house with produce from their gardens. They had a can that you put your money in. The system worked very well. Outside the Rural Midwest our society has gone to Hell. Every place in the Rural Midwest I would still feel good about doing this today and I know it is still going on.

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barbgre1 July 02 2014 at 7:44 PM

Years ago while traveling through the midwest, there was a store with blind cashiers. Signs asked customers to tell what we had and then pay correct amount. People were very honest.

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vincent.barnes1 July 02 2014 at 7:36 PM

It Will bê the cops who dont pay

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dsenor905 July 02 2014 at 10:50 AM


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