an open letter to St. Mark’s


Dear St. Mark’s Coffee,

Just wanted to let you know that I have absolutely no problem with your price increase, or for that matter, your proposal to charge for Wifi. It’s your business and, yeah, I get that it is for profit – but thanks for the scolding reminder.

I think SM’s is a great local institution and I know running a small business is no easy undertaking so it is with respect that I would ask you to Please. Stop. Whining at your customers.

Seriously, you’ve had a version of this sign hanging up by the register for, what, two years now? Longer? I find it accusatory, condescending and just silly. If people are taking advantage of the space, kick em to the curb. You could also program a wifi password into your receipts as many similar businesses already do. Or just straight up charge for the WiFi and be rid of ye olde wireless wranglers who exploit you so.

Instead, you opt to whine about it. What’s worse is that you don’t even whine in a way that lets your customers know what you consider to be a fair price for the honor of sitting in the coffee shop. I’m actually not being a snark here: how much should I be coughing up if I’m planning to park for three hours? $5, $10, $20? You’ve never specified, perhaps because it’s easier to engage in willy nilly whining.

And certainly, scrawling magic marker fatwas is much easier than doing things that might actually make you more profitable. Things, like, say… changing your menu already! Maybe some new sandwiches instead of the tired, paninis? Perhaps some soup that outshines what you can find in a can for half the price? Seriously, if you gave people more choices they might stay for lunch instead of just sipping a coffee for three hours.

In short, I’d encourage you to spend more energy on the menu than on the magic marker rants.



7 Comments so far

  1. hubs (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

    hahaha. a whiny post about whining. how meta.

  2. dicker (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

    a whiny comment about whining, even meta-er.

  3. Aaron DeLay (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2008 @ 9:04 pm

    Those kind of signs irritate me too. Seriously, if you have such a problem with it, deal with it. Honestly, don’t kick the people who don’t use the bloody services that you seem to be giving away for free. Maybe I’m reading the situation wrong, but I’m less likely to visit this place because they’re punishing the wrong people.

  4. Valerie (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 8:58 am

    2 years? That is one long whine.

  5. dicker (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 9:20 am

    Exactly Valerie. If it was a one off thing I wouldn’t be "whining" about it but there’s been a version of this sign up for the last two years.

  6. David (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

    You have a good point about not knowing how much to spend at coffee houses while "parking". I’ve often wondered this, myself. Personally, I don’t have much of a problem with spending money to stay — I’m more worried about gaining weight from buying and consuming an endless series of lattes while parked. :)

    Coffee shops are tough businesses to run, and I can understand if some of them need to turn tables and can’t support much parking. I just wish more of them would spell out what their expectations are. If a shop doesn’t want parkers, that’s fine. I don’t mind going to some other shop to work on my computer and let people just stopping in for a quick coffee have the seats.

    By the way, I’m posting this from a really neat little coffee house at 12th & Madison in Congress Park called "Under The Umbrella". I bought a bowl of soup along with my latte, so hopefully I’m paid up for my time here. :)

  7. Marilyn Terrell (unregistered) on February 26th, 2008 @ 7:09 am

    Are people waiting for tables to open up? Then I can understand their concern. But if not, they should enjoy the free publicity. A full coffee house usually indicates a good coffee house.

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