KFnet in T-Town

Jul. 8, 2011 at 7:28am

O'Malley's Owned Pizza Place Progress

And a tale of Tacoma tourism tragedy

Though the Sluggo's sign is still hanging it's now easy to tell something else is coming soon in that space. As the Weekly Volcano reported back in March, it's going to become a family friendly pizza place from the owner of O'Malley's. Looks like it could be a fine addition to Sixth Ave. and I'm excited to give them a try!

Tacoma Tourism Tragedy

Once upon a time, a woman and her two sons approached me and a friend on Sixth Ave. "Excuse me," one of them inquired, "are you from here?"

Without hesitation and eager to help out I said I was. It was quarter to nine and they sought coffee. Turns out they had been driving for a while and the woman grew tired and needed something to help her stay awake for the remaining hour of their journey. To my surprise they somehow ended up in Sixth Ave. from the freeway.

Imagine, however, being a complete Tacoma blank, ending up there, and finding nearly nothing except bars open. No coffee shop (not even the nearby Starbuck's) was open for business within sight. Yelp led them here to Beyond the Bridge Cafe which closed back in May and the only late-ish option nearby was Metronome which, again, for a stranger to Destiny, may as well have been in another state.

What does night life mean on Sixth Ave. in Tacoma? In this case, no likely nook called to this worn family and their image of Tacoma, whatever it was, may be no better from their fatigued frustration.

comments [50]  |  posted under 6th ave, coffee, food, pizza, restaurant, sixth ave, tacoma, tourism

Comments

by jenyum on 7/8/2011 @ 7:39am
I completely agree, that section of 6th Ave desperately needs something other than a bar that's open past 6. With UPS right there I'm really surprised there isn't anything.

Up the hill a bit, the Metronome is open until 11 most nights. So next time you find a stranded family send them up here!

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 7:46am
"What does night life mean on Sixth Ave. in Tacoma? In this case, no likely nook called to this worn family and their image of Tacoma, whatever it was, may be no better from their fatigued frustration." KF





Lots of businesses would extend their business hours to accomodate folks like those mentioned in the story if the cost of employees was not so high. It hardly makes sense to vote for high minimum wage rates, then complain because of the paucity of business activity.

by two9seven on 7/8/2011 @ 10:47am
maybe there is just not enough demand in the evenings for coffee.
The 2011 Washington minimum wage is $8.67
How much should minimum wage be Fredo?

by two9seven on 7/8/2011 @ 10:49am
the 7-11 was probably open.

by dolly varden on 7/8/2011 @ 10:53am
I wonder why so many other cities in Puget Sound have successful late night coffee shops? Fredo's economics of the state-wide minimum wage must only apply in Tacoma.

by thriceallamerican on 7/8/2011 @ 10:53am
This was under the previous ownership, but I believe Shakabrah stopped having open mics and other nighttime entertainment in part because they were having issues with vandalism and neighbor complains related to unsupervised teenagers hanging out outside. But maybe that was just an easy scapegoat...perhaps business sucked.

Also, business isn't likely to be particularly good anywhere if people are making a dollar-two-fiddy an hour and can't afford to go out in the evening...

by KevinFreitas on 7/8/2011 @ 11:00am
I wonder if a coffee shop open in the morning, closed mid-day, then open again in the evening would work at all?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 7/8/2011 @ 11:05am
In almost all parts of Tacoma you could have a late night coffee shop staffed entirely by volunteers and it would still go out of business. Tacoma isn't really a 24 hour a day kind of town. Even towns that were once considered 24 hour towns are no longer such. The demand for fine coffee at 2 am really isn't there in most places.

by NineInchNachos on 7/8/2011 @ 11:10am
it's called a THERMOS folks. www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYM5rRL5u4U

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 11:12am
I'm not claiming that a lower minimum wage would create a utopian world. I'm stating that lots of small businesses, perhaps medium and large businesses as well, would stay open later and open earlier if the numbers would be more favorable. When I say numbers I mean the cost of remaining open during marginal hours vs. the expected revenue.

Let's use an illustration.

Joe Entreprenuer opens a coffee shop. He runs it for 10 hours a day himself. He has no employee expense. He closes at 8PM although he knows some people would like to come in after his closing time. The cost to stay open 24 hours a day (an additional 14 hours) is a minimum wage employee plus a little extra utilities. Let's assume the only extra is the employee. Minimum wage ($8.67) plus FICA, FUTA, L&I and Unemployment insurance brings the actual wage to about $10 per hour. The cost per day of staying open for 24 hours is therefore $140 per day or $52,000.

If he could hire someone for $5 per hour ($6 with taxes included) the annual cost of the extra hours drops to $32,000.

Under which scenerio would Joe be more likely to green light the 24 hour coffee shop proposal.

Further assume, that the person being hired was previously unemployed and was bringing nothing home each week. His income was zero before working at the coffee shop.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 11:16am
"In almost all parts of Tacoma you could have a late night coffee shop staffed entirely by volunteers and it would still go out of business." crenshaw

Volunteers make unreliable workers, therefore you are probably correct that a business staffed by volunteers would fail. Businesses only succeed with predictable and reliable staffing.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 11:21am
"Also, business isn't likely to be particularly good anywhere if people are making a dollar-two-fiddy an hour and can't afford to go out in the evening..."thrice

can you provide an some examples?

You know, a business doesn't have to be particularly good if its open super convenient hours. Once my little girl needed medical attention in the middle of the night and we took her to a quick clinic although we would have preferred to have the family doctor attend to her. The quick clinic was a crappy substitute for a real MD but you know what...they were open 24 hours and we weren't complaining!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 7/8/2011 @ 11:23am
You don't get a lot of reliability for $5.00 an hour, theft maybe but reliability not so much. I really don't think most businesses want to deal with the types of characters wandering around town at 3 AM. A business will make money when they are open when the paying customers are around.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 11:34am
So you're saying that volunteers are more reliable than low wage earners?
That doesn't actually make any sense. Yes theft is potential problem but it doesn't distinguish 24 hour businesses from normal businesses. Most businesses keep their security cameras runnin 24 hours a day already. People who steal are usually caught and fired. I've occasionally fired people for stealing and they were all earning minimum wage or more.

What difference does it make to you if some entreprenuer wants to gamble his money on a 24 hour business operation.

Maybe you didn't read Kevin's original posting. He bemoaned the fact that there were no late night coffee shops available for a visitor to Tacoma. I'm suggesting some solutions. What's your suggestion? Rather than find fault with my ideas, why not propose something of your own?

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 11:52am
"maybe there is just not enough demand in the evenings for coffee" two9seven

Kevin's original posting titled "Tacoma Tourism Tragedy" suggests otherwise.

by two9seven on 7/8/2011 @ 11:59am
The demand is just not there.
Not sure why.
Maybe not enough single, employed people.
I think the late night coffee thing is a no go. I would like to go out once in a while to a cafe after 8pm on Saturday night but nothing is ever open except for Sherry's

Keep the dream alive!

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 12:16pm
Low demand is not the same as non-existant demand.

Obviously, if a business has high variable expenses (i.e. employment costs) it will need high demand to make 24 hour businesses work.

But as the variable expenses diminish (as they would in the case of no minimum wage) all of a sudden the demand would be adequate.

A coffee shop would probably need to sell 6 lattes an hour just to break even if the employee was earning minimum wage, but would only need to sell 3 lattes an hour if the worker was only making $5.00 an hour.

by thriceallamerican on 7/8/2011 @ 12:27pm
"can you provide an some examples [of low wages meaning people having less money to spend]?" - fredo

Sure, though it seems rather obvious. If I make $5 an hour I'm going to think long and hard before spending an hour's wages on a latte.

Hell, I make many, many times $5 an hour due to good education in a lucrative field and a healthy dose of luck, and I still do a gut check before buying a $2.50 short Americano on my way to the office.

Now, I realize a lot of people think differently than me and may be a bit more, uh, lax about their disposable income to the point of barely being able to pay their bills or whatever, but simple math states that at a certain point you don't make enough money to go out at night, QED.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 12:32pm
Well if a person making $5 an hour has to "think long and hard before spending" his wages, then imagine how hard someone who has been unemployed for years must have to think to make the same decision.

Why do people think that a low wage job is worse than no job?

by thriceallamerican on 7/8/2011 @ 12:40pm
No job certainly sucks more than crappy job in most cases.

I'm just not convinced that our state's minimum wage is anywhere near high enough to be considered one of the primary causes of our unemployment numbers.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 12:50pm
Kevin commented that visitors to Tacoma were less than impressed by the businesses open late at night. I proposed a solution. Does anyone else, besides me have a solution?

Also, thrice, when our society tries to address a problem (be it unemployment or anything else) is it somehow important to only address "primary causes" or should we also address "secondary causes?" And who ranks causes as primary and secondary? Is President Obama addressing the primary causes of unemployment? How does that seem to be working?

by two9seven on 7/8/2011 @ 1:31pm
open a late night coffee shop.

by two9seven on 7/8/2011 @ 1:49pm
I propose a 6th ave laissez-faire district that would be exempt from all these kinds of requirements like minimum wage and other business taxes. Lets see what happens.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 2:10pm
I'm up for that experiment! I don't frequently need an all night coffee shop but maybe if it was a dark little place with some john coltrane playing in the background i would drop in from time to time.

by Brooks on 7/8/2011 @ 5:06pm
How curious, Fredo. I know some folks who own one of the coffee shops on 6th and the reason they no longer stay open late was a lack of customers that late, not the evil evil minimum wage. Oh to live in an era where companies large and small could pay as much as $3/hour!

by Erik on 7/8/2011 @ 5:10pm
Kudos to the coffee shops that tried to make a go of the late coffee scene.

Metronome seems to be pulling it off at 6th and Union, but no one else yet. Perhaps another one will in the future! There is always room at the top for a great coffee shop.



metronomecoffee.com/

If they get flooded with people later in the night, it will give an incentive for other shops to open and for existing ones to expand their hours like Caffe Dei.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 5:27pm
" I know some folks who own one of the coffee shops on 6th and the reason they no longer stay open late was a lack of customers that late, not the evil evil minimum wage. Oh to live in an era where companies large and small could pay as much as $3/hour!

Well Brooks that's funny because there are all kinds of businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores and convenience stores that stay open 24 hours a day. Are they all owned by stupid people? Also, in fairness, the discussion of wage rates really wasn't confined to coffee shops it would apply to any kind of business for which people might occasionally desire at inconvenient hours. Your friends evaluation was interesting but it's just an anecdotal observation. Maybe his coffee shop wasn't popular at that hour with the kind of people who wanted coffee. Just a guess.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 5:31pm
I wonder why so many other cities in Puget Sound have successful late night coffee shops? dollyvarden

Care to mention the names of "many cities in the Puget Sound that have late night coffee shops?

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 5:47pm
Again, I'm not saying that offering a lower wage rate would guarantee that a late night business would be successful. I just said that a lower wage rate would make it more likely that an entrepreneur would give this niche a try. Kevin pointed out the problem of few businesses open late at night. I'm offering a solution.

by Brooks on 7/8/2011 @ 7:41pm
I actually doubt a lower wage rate would convince an espresso shop to stay open later into the evening. Espresso making is a skill and anyone who owns such a shop, the late night quality is king / queen type shop, knows that for a skill you have to pay more than the chain video store or chain drugstore. And the skill of the barista shows in the quality of their product and a barista who is willing to be underpaid for their skills (much like anyone who is willing to sell their skills, no matter how common they are, for nearly nothing -- why are business owners and investors the only ones who are allowed to make a return on their investment in the "Minimum Wage is Evil" circle?) will make crappy drinks and thus, the business can and will fail.

I know two folks who own coffee shops, one closely enough to have chats with about their business, the other only though other people. They see it more as a craft business, like the Red Hot or a craft furniture maker. That type of business owner, yes, they're entrepreneur's but not in the same sense as the folks who own the parking lot espresso stands. The love doing what they do and see being able to make money at is as gravy.

As for towns which have late night coffee shops: Seattle and Olympia both do and those shops are in (a) liveable / walkable neighborhoods with (b) lots of other things going on in the evening and (c) a student / few years post-college crowd. As a city, I think Tacoma lacks that combination. We are too car-centric and what colleges we do have (UPS, UWT, and PLU) aren't in the same type of neighborhoods / lack the same culture that downtown Olympia offers or Capitol Hill in Seattle. I drive near UPS a few times a week and I sometimes forget it's even there.

by Brooks on 7/8/2011 @ 7:50pm
And, yes, there are other businesses which stay open late. All of the types of businesses you cited sell other things. More people, for instance, probably do go into the 7-11 for a case of beer at 10 PM than go buy a coffee at 7 PM. The coffee business is largely a morning / afternoon business. The restaurant is a mostly afternoon and evening business.

No idea what was the source of your "Are they all owned by stupid people?" the folks who own those businesses have a broader product base.

Also, no idea why the actual experience of an actual coffee shop owner who actually tried to stay open late is "anecdotal" -- it's a small sample but it's not second hand information from someone who has no idea what they're talking about. And that wasn't the only shop on 6th to try to stay open late model and see if fail: Beyond the Bridge, for instance. Metronome might make it, who can say, they are closer to UPS and they do have a larger events space, from what I hear.

by jenyum on 7/8/2011 @ 7:58pm
Really for real, Metronome is open.

Mon - Thurs: 7:00 am - 11:00 pm
Fri: 7:00 am - 1:00 am
Sat: 8:00 am - 1:00 am
Sun: 8:00 am - 11:00 pm

They have live music tonight, too.

www.facebook.com/Metronome.Coffee/posts/...

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 8:33pm
I'm having trouble reading the comments because they aren't formatting properly on my computer. The text is spilling way over on the right side overlaying the picture. Anyone else having this problem?

by Brooks on 7/8/2011 @ 8:38pm
I'm seeing fourteen or fifteen of the comments spilling over to the right. Most of the others seem to be in the center, or maybe a bit to the left. Strange.

by Brooks on 7/8/2011 @ 8:43pm
Good for Metronome! I tried to order drinks there once: the first time they were too short staffed for the line to move and the second time when I got to the head of the line the barista greeted me with "What's up Dawg!" which, honestly, is not professional behavior. When I responded, rather incredulously, with "really, you call your customers Dawg?" They claimed they were greeting the customer behind me, which also isn't the most professional behavior. Help the customer standing in front of you, don't ignore them.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 8:43pm
"TACOMA TOURISM TRAGEDY" is the subtitle of the thread.

The problem? Not enough businesses open late at night, visitors to our fine down...disappointed. The people in the story were looking for coffee but they could have been looking for anything. I made a proposal which of course was shot down by everyone. But that doesn't solve the problem Kev mentioned. How would you get more business activity later at night? It might help to pretend that the owners of businesses would like a little profit if they are going to keep the lights on later.

by Brooks on 7/8/2011 @ 9:14pm
To quote myself: (a) liveable / walkable neighborhoods with (b) lots of other things going on in the evening. If there was a small community theatre, or a independent movie house, or something to attract / retain a customer base, there more people would venture there for more reasons. Instead, that area (from Starbucks up towards Jason Lee) is mostly bars and coffee shops, a couple high end restaurants (Maso and Asado) to round it out.

I'd love it if Tacoma had a District where one could pop into, oh, Upper Crust Pizza for dinner, then pop down the block to watch a movie and then pop in for a cocktail at 1022 South before either getting back into my car and driving back to my neighborhood, or walking back home.

Unfortunately, we seem to lack that type of district in Tacoma. We have a small one up at 26th and Proctor, but even that area is limited.

Your suggestion seemed to be: pay employees less so the business owner makes more. But in order to have the type of district I would like to see, to have coffee shops that are open until 8 PM, or places like the Grand Cinema, or restaurants of any stripe to succeed, you need a populace that can afford to visit such places. When circumstances have tightened my budget, going out for movies, or for coffee, or for drinks, or for anything else that isn't essential (bills, bills, bills, groceries) just doesn't happen. There are places, or so I hear, where folks don't have to worry about such concerns as much as others, but Tacoma (the rusty old jewel on the puget sound?) ain't one of those towns. A minimum wage -- a livable minimum wage -- makes that type of possible.

by fredo on 7/8/2011 @ 9:28pm
Brooks, a lot of these barristas make good tip money. I'll bet some of them would work an overnight shift for less than minimum wage just to collect the tips. Regarding the difficulty involved in making an expresso, I'm skeptical. The people at McDonalds make espresso coffee and most of them don't look like they know which end of a broom does the sweeping. People work all night at Walgreens making prescriptions. Is coffee more difficult than phamaceuticals?

You said you would like some lively business districts. Me too! And there are a lot of people who are out of work who would like an entry level job, they would even be willing to learn the coffee business. And there are a lot of business owners who would like to expand their hours and gain some extra business. Why can't our society have these things? Simple, the minimum wage level is too high. IMO. There may be other reasons why these business districts would not thrive at night. I'm just mentioning one reason why it's unlikely to happen.

by Brooks on 7/8/2011 @ 10:29pm
"The people at McDonalds make espresso coffe and most of them don't look like they know which end of the broom does the sweeping?" Really? And you tried to claim that I thought business owners were stupid? ("Are they all owned by stupid people?") Wow...

I've never bought an latte at McDonald's so this is pure speculation, but, my guess is they use nearly completely automated machines, like Starbucks is using. They probably grind, tamp and the pull the shots so all the barista has to do is make the milk hot with a steaming wand and using whatever type of coffee McDonalds can get for the least amount of money. (Also, I doubt the McDonalds employee is allowed to accept tips.) When I buy my latte at a place like Satellite, Caffe Dei, or probably even Metronome, I get a better quality coffee, one that is prepared by someone who knows how to get the most out of the components they have. It's an art form, really, just like any craft. I know, I've worked as a barista. Granted, it was at a Starbucks so I just had to identify what button to push for two shots instead of one. That and make some milk hot instead of steaming it the best way possible. It's like making an omelete, really. Anyone can do it with a little practice, but to get a really really good one... not everyone can do that.

And, as a former barista, let me tell you... most of my tips came from the morning rush. When I worked evenings, they decreased as the night wore on. From 7 to 9 AM, when people were heading to work, then we'd see the tip jars fill up. But in the afternoon and evening, couple bucks one hour, couple bucks the next. A bar, where folks are tossing down $10 for a cocktail (or a pitcher or two), other factors can lead to higher tips, but not in coffee shops.

And, to beat this horse for the last time, of course I'd like to see business owners be able to make as much of a profit as they can however they can. But as someone who has skills which are sold by someone else who lacks those skills, I too deserve a living wage for my efforts.

Treat an employee like an expense and you'll get a certain level of employee (I've worked for a company that did that and part of me is enjoying seeing them flounder as they soon go out of business), treat an employee like a vital part of your business (which I've done at the aforementioned company when I was a supervisor and I saw people who others thought were merely an expense flourish) and your business will have a better chance of success.

The reason that type of district doesn't exist in this town -- and that I didn't use business is intentional, downtown can be a business district, but what I am talking about is more of a community -- is partly history, part geography and part the B&O tax which I know you're against as it's your other topic of choice on these pages.

With that, I think I've stated my pro-worker / pro-business owner position and explained my vision of what sort of area I would like to see in Tacoma. And so, I'm done. Keep up the good fight against the evil minimum wage so our capitalist / trickle down economic preachers can start paying $5/hour. I'll keep up my good fight by only visiting coffee shops and other businesses which treat the proletariat with decency and respect.

by fredo on 7/9/2011 @ 7:19am
"in order to have the type of district I would like to see, to have coffee shops that are open until 8 PM, or places like the Grand Cinema, or restaurants of any stripe to succeed, you need a populace that can afford to visit such places."brooks

Brooks, this is a chicken and egg problem. Consumers want the late night businesses, unemployed entry level workers want the jobs, and businessmen want to exploit the late night niche available. Businessmen have already done the calculations and discovered that for the most part there is insufficient business UNDER CURRENT wage levels to make business expansion possible. Therefore either consumers must somehow magically have more money to spend or wage rates need to decrease for expansion to happen. We have little control over prosperity, however we have control over wage rates. That's the only factor which could be easily (well not that easily) changed. IMO

Yes, I am pro-business, but I'm not anti worker. I've worked as a dishwasher, hot tar roofer, mechanic, and in retail sales. I've also been an employer, and yes on some occasions the workers took home more than I did even though I put in more hours. That's just the way it goes sometimes.

Here's a statement I thought was a bit curious:

"I'll keep up my good fight by only visiting coffee shops and other businesses which treat the proletariat with decency and respect." Brooks

Are you telling us that you only support businesses which pay all their employees family wages and treat all their employees with decency and respect? How do you determine that? When you visit a local store like Walgreens, Nordstrom, or Albertsons do you ask all the employees about their working conditions and pay? Regarding disrespect, is there something disrespectful about a person who has been out of work for 2 years or longer accepting a $5 hour job? I personally would have more respect for a person working under these conditions then I do for someone who wastes all their time playing xbox all day.

And a final thought, the Grand Cinema is a non-profit organization so doesn't have the pressures that a for profit theater would probably have.

by Brooks on 7/9/2011 @ 10:21am
As I said, I've made my points and you've made yours.

But, for my final volleys in this discussion:

Sure the Grand Cinema is a not for profit organization but they still have to make money, what with the decline in arts funding and donations. The have the same expenses as a for profit enterprise: they have to pay the manager of the facility, they have to pay the projectionist, the film distributors, and for the construction of their recent expansion. Sure, the ticket taker and the folks at the concession stand are volunteers, but those would be $5/hour jobs in your world and so the savings isn't that great.

Anyway, my point about the Grand Cinema was that it was a target destination where folks would go and then visit surrounding businesses.

As for the lack of late night coffee shops on 6th Avenue, maybe it is not the evil evil minimum wage but the lack of market demand? Owners have tried to keep their coffee shops open later into the night but the people, the customers, did not come. So they moved to more market appropriate hours. Personally, I'm not going to fault them nor disrespect the unemployed or the underemployed ("someone who wastes all their time playing XBox all day" or "doesn't know which end of the broom does the sweeping").




by fredo on 7/9/2011 @ 11:14am
I kind of understand

Non profit organizations that enjoy many competitive advantages over for profit businesses including free employees and no property taxes treat their employees with decency and respect and should be encouraged.

For profit businesses which endeavor to provide a much needed service, take some unemployed people off the street and would like to have a chance to make a small profit by keeping employee expenses as low as possible are evil and treat their employees indecently and disrespectfully and should be discouraged.

The utopian world was never so clearly revealed.

by Brooks on 7/9/2011 @ 12:40pm
Finally, you got it!

The coffee shop where I bought my latte this morning is a failing money pit where the owners dress in discarded coffee bags while their employees are wearing expensive clothes and burning $20 bills just to mock the owners.

Oh, wait, no... you completely missed the attempt I made to have a real discussion with you by jumping to logical extremes. (Which, since you're likely to misinterpret that last paragraph is exactly what I was doing. It's a jestful paragraph.)

The small business owners I know keep their employee expenses low by, oh, working shifts at their store and when it takes off, they will gain the extra rewards. All of this is basic economic theory, really.

The market is what dictates what goes where. The business owner, large or small (Starbucks or Satellite) responds to the needs of that market. If the market does not exist, the business fails regardless of whether he or she pays their employees $5 or $10 an hour. Sometimes, yes, a business owner can create a new market without pre-existing demand but that is a rarity.

That few people in this town want to buy a cup of coffee at 8 PM is why Kevin was unable to point them to a coffee shop. Pure and simple. If they asked where to buy coffee four or five hours earlier, he could have pointed them to four or five locations, one of which was directly across the street.

I have contributed my experience in the coffee industry to help shed some light on why Kevin was unable to point them to a shop (low consumer demand and increasingly low tips as the day progresses -- both factors which have absolutely nothing to do with minimum wage laws or even livable wage and since tips get lower as the day progresses, the low wage you want to pay would not be made up by the consumer's generosity.). We could pay you $2/hour to work the 1 AM to 5 AM shift at a coffee shop and if one customer wanders in to buy a single coffee (and maybe stay warm, or out of the rain) the coffee shop owner still loses money.

by fredo on 7/10/2011 @ 7:43am
"The market is what dictates what goes where." brooks

In many areas the market place does dictate choices for the business owner. He can always look for a less expensive location, negotiatiate with the property owner for better terms, find lower cost supplies of coffee and other ingrediants, even turn the heat down in the winter.

The one thing he can't negotiate however is the price of staffing. He can not go below $8.67 per hour (with FICA taxes etc the minimum wage is really closer to $10 hour). We have a law which prevents the price of labor from being established in the marketplace. $10 doesn't sound like a lot to most people but for a business owner who wants to keep his business open an extra 10 hours every day the additional labor cost MINIMUM is $36,500/year. That sounds significant.

How would you like this law? Bread is now selling at the store for $8 per loaf because we've just established a minimum bread price. No more day old bread for 99cents, no more 2 for 1 specials, just $8 a loaf or higher. Forget that there is a huge warehouse full of bread that nobody wants to buy at that price. The question is, is the price of bread subject to the marketplace? I would say it isn't.

Why don't we just establish a minimum price for everything?

You still haven't provided a solution to Kevin's problem "tacomas tourism tragedy." He identified a paucity of services in the evening and late at night here in Tacoma and highlighted a demand. The tourist was looking for coffee but the discussion really isn't about coffee it's about a wide variety of things Tacoma doesn't offer at that hour. I've had the same experience. I've been DT and stopped by the Amocat and they're closed. Probably Morgan could weigh in on what stops him from staying open longer hours. I would bet that staffing prices are a major deterrant.

by fredo on 7/10/2011 @ 8:38am
RE: the new business

I think this will be a great addition to sixth ave. Does anyone know if Jack sold the building to these people or if he's renting it out? Having said that, I'm sorry there's no music store in that part of town. Part of what makes a community worth caring about is having lots of mom & pop businesses supplying every sort of need.

by Brooks on 7/10/2011 @ 4:14pm
Alas, I don't know enough about the history of labor movements to discuss why the cost of one thing (human labor) needs to be set by laws while something else (bread -- the cost of which, I suspect, is impacted by grain subsidies, but that's not your point) does not. I would venture to guess that it is too protect people from people who are so eager to exploit others. In your utopian world, that would be by wanting to pay a non-livable wage.

As for the situation that Kevin encountered, I have no solution for that. Well, I offered one but you used it as a launch pad for some tangent about a non-profit having a competitive edge over a for-profit enterprise.

by fredo on 7/10/2011 @ 10:26pm
In my utopian world every one who wants to work can find a job even if it's for a little less than they might eventually hope to earn. Lots of busy people means a society with low crime, low alcoholism and drug abuse, low criminality, low spousal abuse and a more cohesive community.

Will some people living in my utopian world be disappointed? Probably. But a person with a low wage job has some sense of self-worth. A person who can not find work has a low sense of self-worth and may drift into depression and eventually suicide. That sounds like a bad thing.

by Erik on 7/10/2011 @ 11:16pm
Let's all pledge to drink coffee (or tea) in independent coffee houses after 5:00 p.m. in Tacoma and change the "market" providing more money for employers, employees and creating more of a late night coffee scene.

Win-win-win.

by Mofo from the Hood on 7/10/2011 @ 11:44pm
TACOMA TOURISM COMEDY

Late night tourists travelling Tacoma's 6th Avenue may find coffee at Jack in the Box near Sprague Street and also at Denny's near Pearl Street.

Would it be beneficial for the local economy if either establishment paid less than a federally mandated minimum wage. Sure.

Suppose two late night tourists travelling 6th Avenue by car needed caffeine and gasoline. They're midpoint between Jack in the Box and Denny's and they park to count their money. They determine that they don't have enough cash to buy gas or coffee.

Moments later two Mexican's from a nearby used tire shop walk past the parked tourists. One of the tourists calls out the car window that she needs help. The two Mexican guys, after hearing the tourist story, explain to the two girls that there's work to be done at nearby Pedro's Tire Shop, and the tourists can earn some cash to buy gas and coffee.

When the girls arrive at Pedro's Tire Shop they see two flags: a Mexican flag and a rainbow flag. However, they don't see a business license on the wall. A further glance around reveals that the shop is very clean and well decorated with antiques.

The two Mexican guys say to the two tourist girls that they need some dusting done to their ceramic collection of Jesus, Mary and Joseph statuettes. The whole collection requires an hour of time to dust properly. They won't pay the girls minimum wage but they will pay them a total of $6.00.

The tourist girls accept the offer, perform the work, and spend their earnings for gas and coffee locally on 6th Avenue.

by Brooks on 8/12/2011 @ 10:27pm
Bumping this thread because one of the coffee shops on 6th Avenue, Caffe Dei and the one nearest to where Kevin encountered the travelers in need of coffee, is hosting a Comedy Open Mic Night on Tuesday from 8 PM until 10 PM.

This is a great opportunity to not only support a local business (actually two, as one of their main roasters is also located in Tacoma), but also to prove to coffee shops that there is a market for caffeine based drinks at night.

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Although I have another home on the web I thought it might be nice to lead by example a bit and put this blog system up to the test myself.

So far, so good... Funny how I build web tools for other people that are far better than the one's I have setup over on KFnet.

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