by Liz Reitzig
Perhaps you’ve seen this heartwarming story about the “new” way Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philly is helping the homeless. It was started by a customer and nurtured by owner Mason Wartman. When people come into the shop to buy a slice of $1 pizza, they are able to buy an extra slice for someone without means. For their dollar, they get a post-it note that they will write a message on and place on the wall. When someone enters the shop who is not able to purchase the pizza, that individual can take one of the notes off the wall and redeem it for a slice of pizza.
This kind of exchange is a win-win-win.
The exchange creates a community where people want to give back and, simultaneously, where people feel good about receiving the gift. People want to participate in something they feel will, intangibly, add value to their lives as well as others’, and this gives them the opportunity to do just that. Those who bought slices of pizza for others expressed their participation in positive ways.
With a plethora of advance sales, this creates an economic buffer for the restaurant. The demand increases because the restaurant is adding value to their original product by offering a novel experience for the customers who pre purchase a slice of pizza for others. For those who are the recipients of the pizza, they not only get a slice of pizza, but additionally a kind note to go with it. The pizza shop is the location where community exchanges take place.
Ultimately, the restaurant offers much more than a slice of pizza. They offer an experience that brings many smiles. They offer a moment of joy and a safe place for people to share in the opportunity of expressing kindness, encouragement and hope to others. They offer a new approach to the exchange of value. They are an example to follow for other business. And, perhaps, an experiment in the multitude of innovative ways that peaceful, voluntary exchanges between humans has the potential to transform social, political and financial challenges facing our cities today.