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Coffee-shop owner won’t pass along hike to patrons

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/7/2013 (1501 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

IT won’t cost you any more to sip your beverage at Parlour Coffee. Owner Nils Vik is eating the tax increase.

Over the weekend, Vik tweeted (@parlourcoffee) his business’s after-tax food and drink prices have not changed despite the one per cent PST increase that came into effect on July 1.

‘I’d rather take a bit of a loss and still have a competitive price,’ says Parlour Coffee owner Nils Vik.


‘I’d rather take a bit of a loss and still have a competitive price,’ says Parlour Coffee owner Nils Vik.

Vik will lose money — he figures between $10 to $20 per day — but he said it’s worth it to help his customers.

"We’re paying it. We lowered our prices so our prices remain the same after tax. The customer’s price doesn’t change, but we lose money," he said, noting the business will lose approximately three to five cents per drink.

"We’ve gotten quite a bit of good feedback for this move, even though I didn’t think it was that big of a move to begin with. But a lot of people seem to be appreciating it, which is nice."

The PST tax was increased by one percentage point on July 1 amid considerable controversy. Even though the tax increase had already been introduced, objections were aired at public hearings that only ended on Saturday, and the opposition Progressive Conservatives plan a legal challenge because the tax increase was introduced without a referendum, which the PCs say was legally necessary.

Vik said some have suggested his shop is sending a message to the provincial government.

"Not standing in opposition to the government decision, but in a way. The thing is, we’re still paying it," Vik said. "I think the one per cent tax increase is not unprecedented, but I’d like to see our government use our money a little bit more wisely in certain areas. But I understand it costs money to operate a province."

He said all advertised prices include tax, so it appears to the customer as if nothing changed.

What has changed is that extra one per cent is coming out of Vik’s own pocket. It can be a sacrifice for a small business.

"I suppose, but I went into this business because I loved coffee. I didn’t go into it because I loved numbers," said Vik, a former designer who opened Parlour Coffee in September 2011.

"Over the course of a year, that’s a lot of money, but it also keeps our customers happy. Over the course of the year, I’d rather take a bit of a loss and still have a competitive price."

He said it made sense from another business standpoint since he didn’t have to change menus or signage. "It’s important for me to maintain a simple, streamlined menu," he said. "Coffee is a very habitual part of a person’s day, and it’s nice to keep things consistent for people."

He said all menu prices are divisible by 25 cents. If he had raised prices, he would have needed to up all prices by 25 cents across the board or else start dealing in nickels and dimes.

"I don’t think we would have lost customers, we’re just after a streamlined and more minimal approach to the way we operate our menu," he said. "I don’t want a drink being $3.54. I want it to be $3.50."

He said rising costs of ingredients and coffee may drive prices up in the future. Until then, coffee is the only thing brewing at his café, not a price increase.

Vik and his business partner, Vanessa Stachiw, will open a second location this fall, to be called Little Sister Coffee Maker at 470 River Ave. in Osborne Village.

Read more by Ashley Prest.


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