At Unstaffed Coffee Shop, You're on Your Honor

You check yourself out, pay on the honor system
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2014 3:31 PM CDT
At Unstaffed Coffee Shop, You're on Your Honor
Want a cuppa Joe? You're on your honor.   (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

At The Vault coffee shop in North Dakota, you can get a cup of joe, a cup of tea, a pastry. But you get it yourself and you ring yourself up—and when you do, you're on your honor at what The Vault's owner thinks is the only unstaffed, self-serve cafe out there. Great way to go broke in a heartbeat? "The thing that's amazing is that people have been extremely honest," owner David Brekke tells KVRR, though he admits his nascent business hasn't broken even yet—even with no overhead in the way of employees. "When I add up how much has been taken and how much is in the till at the end of the day, people are 15% more generous than thieving."

The Vault has a credit card reader and a slot for your dollar bills and your checks, and these are the instructions: "Exact change is not necessary, round down and give yourself a break or round up and help us stay in business." There are cameras on the premises, but Brekke says that's more for security than to encourage you to round up. Says one regular, "It's really very convenient to use. I hope that they financially make it, but most people in town I think are pretty honest." (Read more coffee shop stories.)

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