I only recently discovered that you can order books from Powells.com and instead of paying for shipping, you can pick them up at any Powell's location. I picked up my two books at the Powell's on Hawthorne the other morning and then stepped into The Fresh Pot for coffee.
There always seems to be a line eeking into the bookstore boundary and I absolutely love the utilitarian design of the long bench, small tables and opposing chairs all spaced so evenly like a study hall.
There was a large selection of Sweet Pea bakery treats along with the ubiquitous Voodoos and some Pearl Bakery croissants. I chose a Marionberry muffin from Sweet Pea and a chocolate Voodoo for my coffee partner. (She was next door perusing the books on how to can any type of fruit or veg you can imagine. It is fall harvest time, after all.)
When I got to the counter and placed my coffee order I failed to notice the "No debit or credit cards" sign until my shots were already being pulled. I apologetically explained to the counterperson that I forgot it was cash only and pulled out four ones that I had off-handedly grabbed from home on the way out the door. The total for drinks alone was going to be $6.50.
She seemed unfazed and explained it was fine and I could just pay the balance the next time I was in.
I can recall another instance where a coffeehouse that I visited very often was having problems with their debit card machine and so if customer's couldn't pay cash they just wrote down what they ordered in notepad and asked people to pay next time. This seemed reasonable to me since I and almost everyone else who visited that spot were regulars.
The Fresh Pot, however, is a place I haven't been to in maybe 8 months, so I am anything but a regular. Did the counterperson just not want to deal with denying me coffee since the shots were already out and the milk was already poured? Maybe. But maybe if this happens a lot it's just as well to keep the line moving and count on the nice people of Portland to repay their debts.
But if it happens at all, isn't that reason enough to break down and get the debit card machine set-up? It does cost money, I understand. You lose a small percentage of each transaction you take everytime the machine is used (the cost of having the swipe card service and having the funds deposited directly into your company's account). Plus Visa and Mastercard themselves take a chunk out of your sales too, which is why many shops have a minimum purchase to use the debit machine.
But seeing all those tables full of paying customers and a built in customer base streaming in from the Powell's location, I can't see how denying this service is saving them loads of money. It's a hassle, it's an expense, but being a cash only location is something that keeps me out of coffeehouses all the time.
Luckily I was able to reroute my coffeepartner to the cash machine (where we had to pay the service charge to take money out of a bank that was not ours) so that we could get our pastries and settle our debt to The Fresh Pot. Everything worked out ok, the muffin was surprisingly moist and very cake-y and the coffee was, as usual, a very balanced and chocolately-tasting cup of Stumptown.
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