I suppose some would say it's downright un-American, but we worked on July 4th and 5th. It was our choice - a choice that enabled us to take the 7th and 8th and go camping without the hordes of people. It's something we do often - work when others aren't so we can play without crowds. It's a choice we make.
On this camping trip, we met someone whose attitude reminds us a little of our own. She runs the tiny "Beachcomber Cafe" at Fort Flagler State Park . Fort Flagler is situated on the Strait of Juan de Fuca - the waterway that creates the entrance to Puget Sound from the Pacific. In war time, it was a strategic location and now has decaying, 100 year old bunkers, turrets and battlements. An interesting and beautiful place to explore.
We camped up on a bluff and a short walk down the hill was the cold, windy beach and Beachcomber Cafe. The first thing we noticed on the approach was the chalkboard outside that said "free wifi".
Free wifi out here in the far reaches of the country. Cool! We walked in and talked a bit.
Me: So, is the wifi on during business hours?
Her: Nope, 24 hours. I'd probably forget to turn it off anyway.
Me: Is there a password?
Her: No, it's not worth keeping up with a password
Me: It's really great that you offer it way out here
Her: Yeah, you know, it would be a pain to try to make money on it. My little shop here may cost a little more than other places, but if you use the wifi, you might consider buying a little something. It's up to you.
Me: What hours are you open?
Her: 8 to 8
Me (to Sachi): See Sachi, she even figured out how to make the hours easy.
Her: Hah! Now you're getting to know me!
We figured that Common Craft and the Beachcomber Cafe have some things in common. The Beachcomber Cafe has made choices in how the business is run. Sure, they have the potential to try to squeeze every dollar out of people who need wifi, but they don't. They provide wifi as a worry-free service and rely on the good nature of people to support the business in other ways.
Further, they put a priority on the lightweight choice - the wifi is always on, always free and open to everyone. Any other way would create more hassle than she needs. The store hours are even easy to remember.
I'm not talking about business practices, but philosophy - a philosophy that's built on shedding unneeded administration and focusing on providing opportunities that give people ways to feel good about the relationship.
The first step is realizing you have a choice. Your business doesn't have to operate like others. Sure, you can make 8 dollars a day on wifi, or you can smile at your customers and tell them the wifi is free and goes great with today's paper and a candy bar.
Here's a photo set from the trip, if you're interested.