In a Surprise to One Person, Toronto's Anti-Capitalism Cafe Fails and Closes Down

Townhall Media

Most saw this coming — that a business operating against every capitalist principle would manage to become a complete bust.

The news comes out of Toronto that a heralded entrepreneurial experiment has proven invalid. Last year, the ironically-named Gabriel Sims-Fewer opened up a cafe in the downtown area named The Anarchist with a unique approach to his operation. He endeavored to run an anti-capitalist coffee shop and would permit patrons to compensate him for his product as they saw fit. In a shock to literally nobody, this “pay-as-you-can” business model was a failure.


Gabriel applied this honor system for his coffee, while other menu items and side products were the primary hoped-for revenue streams; those instead delivered more meager auto-drip levels of cash flow. After just over a year, the self-identifying “white cis-gender queer” Sims-Fewer is closing up shop at the end of this month. Yet, despite his claim of having learned a lot from this experience, his words would display something else. Get a load of this leftist dogma describing his venture.

While constantly looking for ways to undermine the plethora of toxic, oppressive, exclusive parts of the standard formula. I hoped to be a subversive alternative to what we’re all used to. Painfully aware of the danger of commodifying radical politics, I try to work with small, relatively ethical (it’s all relative in capitalism) supplier-creators.

As for how this winning strategy failed to carry him forward to a fruitful business? Oh, he has an explanation at the ready.

Unfortunately, the lack of generational wealth/seed capital from ethically bankrupt sources left me unable to weather the quiet winter season, or to grow in the ways needed to be sustainable longer-term. 


(sigh) Where to even begin…

How about with his proclaimed position stated at the top of his surrender missive? In his introduction, he announces bold contempt for conservatives, libertarians, “anarcho-capitalists,” the police, and members of the military. At least he was true to his vision, because effectively driving off a massive portion of potential clientele is surely anti-capitalist. And, as Sims-Fewer learned quickly, that is also anti-profit. It almost takes effort not being able to move your hot coffee during the cold months of the year.

Some may look over this confounding retail plan and wonder just how he managed to stay open for a year. Well, it took a lot of help — from those monied folks he loathes. To start, Sims-Fewer leveraged his start-up with corporate credit cards. Next, a local coffee roaster granted him the retail space rent-free for six months. When that expired, it still had not dawned on this un-businessman to charge for his coffee, opting instead to panhandle for donations from crowd-sourced funding. So the only reason he had been able to open the doors of his anti-capitalist cafe is by relying on money derived from…capitalism.


There is a dose of irony in something that is rather blatant, but it still is peeking out from behind the obviousness. Ultimately it comes down to this — he was a cafe owner unable to sell people on anarchy. Now, we simply wait for the defenders to emerge, telling us that in reality a true anti-capitalist coffee shop simply has not been tried yet.


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