If one wants to open a store, he or she needs to hire someone to manage the store. However, a certain humble coffee shop in Batanes, in the northernmost part of the Philippines, has been operating for 17 years now without anyone manning the shop and has thus attracted a lot of tourists, local and foreign alike.
Better known as Honesty Coffee Shop, it’s history traces back to 1995, when the owner, Elena Gabilo, 77, saw a group of fishermen docking their boats on the coast a few meters away from her home. She recalls that she put a thermos bottle and some coffee and sugar outside the window to offer to anyone who wanted a drink.
She expected that people would leave her money for the goods, but to no avail. She was not discouraged by this, though, and instead, she did this for a whole month, sometimes adding biscuits and rice outside for children to eat. She did all this thinking that as long as she helped people, it’s all good.
One day, she found few bills and coins tucked in a box and she thought it was the people’s payment for her goods. She was then encouraged to put more products out, but again to no avail. Now it is a small, humble coffee shop, still with no employees. All it has is a box for payment and a sign that reads, “Get what you need. Please pay (for) whatever you get. If you have no change, knock at the door. If no one answers, sorry, so you give more than the price. May your tribe increase. Remember, honesty is the best policy.”
Ms. Gabilo said, “I don’t know if the customers drop the right amount. I don’t want to know if some people are cheating. But as far as I know, 98 percent of the customers pay the right amount.”