Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Old Town Coffee" in Lander WY

My first day in Lander WY, I awoke, showered and made a bee-line for The Old Town Coffee house in Lander WY.   I wanted a place to sit and work on some videos, post some tweets, pics and maybe a quick facebook entry, together with a couple of cups of coffee.  What follows is the dialog that happened as best as I can remember at the barista counter...

ME:  hello, can I have a large Americano, and do you have an electrical plug for my computer?

Barista@OldTownCoffee: sorry we don't have plugs and we're not going to put them in.

ME  I see, why don't you have electrical plugs?

Barista@OldTownCoffee:  There is a great article in either the New York Times or LA Times about Coffee Houses not providing electrical plugs, you should read it. 

ME: ok I will look for that article when I can plug in my computer, but can you tell me; Why?

Barista@OldTownCoffee:  People talk to each other more and interact with the baristas more if there are no electrical plugs in a coffee house.

ME:  So there are no plans to ever install electrical plugs in Old Town Coffee?

Barista@OldTownCoffee:  At this time there are no plans to ever have plugs

ME:  OK, thanks, where is a Coffee Shop in Lander with plugs?

Barista@OldTownCoffee: ... down the street somewhere...

ME:  OK thanks

If the barista would have just looked me in the eye, and been honest and said "We don't want to encourage people to hang out in Old Town Coffee and soak in the free wifi" I would have been happy to accept that answer, but the "Manager" was rude, offensive and arrogant.  I left the business immediately and went a block down the street to the Apple Valley Market.

If you are visiting Lander Wyoming, I strongly encourage you to visit Apple Valley Market, where they have excellent coffee/espresso drinks, serve wonderful food, have free wifi, ALLOW CUSTOMERS TO PLUG IN COMPUTERS, and simultaneously provide honest, polite and respectful customer service

Old Town Coffee in Lander Wy is no friend to travelling bicyclists.   With more than 1000 people riding the TransAm annually, (which runs right thru the center of town) you'd think a business would go out of their way to make electrical plugs available.     The TransAm riders offer a revenue stream to the small towns on the route.   Please post this blog post on your Facebook or tweet it.

(this blog written and posted at the Fremont County Library in Lander WY.  This place is so newly constructed, it still has that "new library smell")


  1. Hello, my name is Nikki and I am the manager at OLD TOWN COFFEE. OLD TOWN COFFEE places a large emphasis on fast, friendly, and honest customer service. I am very sorry that you had a sub-par experience at our shop yesterday and that we were not able to meet your outlet needs. Though I remember the conversation being much different, we take all feedback seriously. I tried my best to step aside and answer your questions while still tending to the orders (there were quite a few lined up at the time) so I am sorry if it seemed that I was being short. It certainly was not intentional. One of my favorite parts of working at a coffee shop is meeting people from all over! As an avid biker myself (road and mountain), we are always excited to meet bikers traveling through town. Anyway, I hope that your visit to Lander was an enjoyable one... Lander is one of my favorite places on earth! If you have any other questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at 307-438-1960 or at oldtwoncoffeemail@gmail.com. Happy Wednesday, Nikki

  2. WHY didn't you post a link that you made reference to? Why did you not take THIS TIME to explain the idea of not allowing customer access to electrical plugs? WHAT IS your purpose of making a comment here?

    I am now requesting that you or any other person associated with OTC participate in an video interview with me on the sidewalk, in front of the business and I will allow you to explain Old Town Coffee's Policy, on any day, within the next 4 days. Today is 10 Aug 2011

  3. Dave - having watched your many videos and seen how even-keeled you appear in what seem to be some of the worst situations, i.e. weather, traffic, sweltering heat, etc. I'd say you've made a great choice in simply choosing a different establishment and letting the touring community know to be weary of OTC.

    Nikki - I was a manager at a high volume cafe (Caffe Strada) in Berkeley many years ago and one thing never changes (no matter how busy you get) and that's honest customer service. It may seem cheesy, but the truth is you never get a second chance to make a first impression and perhaps being a big or swanky or cool fish in a very, very small pond has allowed you and/or your staff to forget that but this correspondence could have been a time for you to smooth things over, regardless of who said what. A reasoned and diligent reply to Dave's concerns would have been along the lines of:

    "We still have no immediate plans to install outlets, for reason x, y or z but no one should leave my cafe feeling slighted in anyway, shape or form. Come back in and have a pastry and coffee on me and let's make this right"

    Just my two cents and good luck in either resolving the dispute or leaving it in Lander.

    And Dave, I'm still looking forward to your latest video. C'mon slacker.

  4. thank you Ian for your concise and coherent comment. You are correct about me being slow to anger and fairly even-keeled. I think spending a career as a flyer in the military has affected me in some very positive ways

    If you've watched my videos and followed me on this year-long bicycle ride, you know that I go into small businesses along the way and report my findings. I've interviewed dozens of small town business owners and employees.

    I now have 100 videos on youtube (and yes Ian, I'll be posting a new one today) The only time I was really angry, was at an entire state, for having dangerous roads.

    This blog post is the very first time I had a bad experience with a business, and I feel it is relevant to the ACA TransAM (since the TransAM is 10ft away from the front door of Old Town Coffee) that I was obligated to report.

    This week...I will be interviewing the bike shop in town, and the owner of the newly opened Thai Restaurant has also agreed to an on-camera interview

  5. Apple Valley Market sounds Great .I'm very sorry old town. But I have to take Dave side when Nikkei replied" sorry we didn't meet your outlet needs" Shows the Bicycle Touring family that Dave has a point. I think Dave was trying to express was the poor attitude. Which you made clear on your post. Not just the fact that you clam to be riders and not set up for any. Good luck to all .OH and Dave What's up with the frigen video .......?????? Greg @ Bowlodio Bicycle Touring

  6. Greg... I'm sittin in the library uploading right now.... and I have 3 more to upload, I had some incredible experiences in Jeffrey City.

  7. I will be making a video in front of Old Town Coffee... and it will appear on my "Lander" video, but I will also embed a stand-alone video in this blog

  8. I've been tweeting a link to this blog several times a day, with the hashtag #acaTransAm so that TransAm'ers know what businesses in Lander are bicycle friendly and which to avoid. It's cool that the ACA has retweeted my tweets about this situation

  9. This is Nikki of OLD TOWN COFFEE checking back in, and I want to fulfill your request for more information. We are very intentional about the coffee we serve and the space we have created for our customers. By choosing not to install outlets throughout the shop, we hope to foster a setting of community and interaction. From my experience, both locals and visitors have taken advantage of the warm and inviting environment to chat with friends or share stories from their travels. We offer free wireless as a perk to customers, but we have actively chosen to not be a coffee shop filled with laptops and iPods. Here is the link to the article from the LA Times about the positive impact of removing outlets:http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/08/business/la-fi-cafe-wifi-20100808

    To Dave and other folks riding through Lander: if you finish powering-up your electronics at the public library and want to coffee-up before hitting the road, OTC would love to serve you some of our amazing coffee, tea, baked goods, and pita wraps. Dave, your friend Ian has a great point, please stop by for breakfast and an Americano on us!

  10. Thank you Nikki. As a small town, Lander is blessed with wifi. I've connected to over a dozen unsecure wifi signals. I thank you for taking the time to post the link and I wish Old Town Coffee great success in the future

  11. It is about the three wheel journey.. it happen on me.. at the end of the race when i picked up my bike from transition i noticed my rear tire was really low on air. it wasn't flat but something went wrong somewhere. Wheels Florida