Earlier this year, Panera opened a non-profit cafe in Clayton, Missouri. The customers there aren’t told what to pay. Instead, they’re given a suggested price and the freedom to pay whatever their situation will allow. Well – the model must be working (or at least getting close to working), because Panera tweeted this on Monday:

And the Detroit News reports some additional details.

This got me thinking… Is there any chance that this could work for other businesses? For example, Ordinary Spouse purchases most of our groceries at Meijer or Caputo’s. What are the chances that one of them could be persuaded to try this out?

I’d love to support stores trying to operate this way, especially those providing basics like food and clothes. To be honest, though, I have no idea whether a ‘pay what you can’ model that is successful at Panera would also be realistic for some of these other places where margins are slim. Could it work?

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