Gross: Seattle small business owner discouraged by endless break-ins

Nov 29, 2022, 10:21 AM | Updated: 6:06 pm
Armistice Coffee Shop (Photo from Max Gross)
(Photo from Max Gross)

At what point is enough truly enough? A Seattle coffee shop owner has been asking that question lately after a string of break-ins.

Rebecca Smith is the co-owner of Armistice Coffee, a shop with three Seattle locations. A trendy coffee shop in Seattle is bound to have a great customer base. However, Smith says in recent years, customers are being chased away due to routine break-ins.

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“We were getting broken into every two weeks,” Smith said.  “And realistically, we still are, but the problem we face is that they smashed our window, which is a minimum of $1,000 to fix.”

Armistice would also lose its cash till with each incident—an item that costs $300 to replace. Not to mention the cash contents that would be taken out of Armistice’s bottom line.

So, Smith did what any business owner would do in a similar spot to reduce the risk. Armistice decided to stop taking cash payments.

“[We were] mitigating the loss, and we weren’t really sure what steps we could take as a business to prevent break-ins,” Smith told the Jason Rantz Show. “There really aren’t any [steps], so this was just one that was like, ‘okay, let’s try it.’”

This move was done out of simple self-preservation and yet it still drew ire from the community.

“I had a personal attack on the business because of that,” Smith said of the move to cashless. “I was drug through the mud on many Facebook neighborhood groups, because I was isolating homeless people.”

Perception is just the proverbial rotten cherry on top in this situation. Smith has problems that threaten her livelihood that a depleted police force, among other issues, is not helping.

In a city where the coffee giants run the industry, the little guy is already at a disadvantage. Constant break-ins have led small business owners to be discouraged and some even close up shop.

“I do think it’s going to get worse for everyone before it gets better,” Smith said.

What would solve this problem?

Maybe the answer is murky. I find it hard to believe that a fully staffed police force would let things of this nature happen with such regularity.

No, it’s not a “fix-all” solution, and let’s not even get into the City of Seattle’s budget, but the ability to increase neighborhood patrols would no doubt make things safer and help support a culture where small businesses can thrive.

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Gross: Seattle small business owner discouraged by endless break-ins