This story ties unemployed folks to higher rates of longer squatting in cafes: The Wall Street Journal reporter writes,
Amid the economic downturn, there are fewer places in New York to plug in computers. As idle workers fill coffee-shop tables -- nursing a single cup, if that, and surfing the Web for hours -- and as shop owners struggle to stay in business, a decade-old love affair between coffee shops and laptop-wielding customers is fading.
Oddly, I believe I wrote this same story with the same concerns at the top of the market in 2005, when cafe owners were, well, already having seen the love affair dim. Taking a hint from a Seattle cafe that turned off Wi-Fi on the weekends, Victrola in Capitol Hill, I wrote in the New York Times four years ago:
...there was also a disadvantage [to offering free Wi-Fi], staff members said: the cafe filled with laptop users each weekend, often one to a table meant for four. Some would sit for six to eight hours purchasing a single drink, or nothing at all.
(I also wrote about Victrola in more detail on this blog.)
This conflict between squatter and cafe owner has been true since Wi-Fi started to become heavily used as it became a standard feature in laptops or available through a cheap add-on card back in 2002 to 2003. Cafes that had attached an AirPort router to a DSL connection suddenly found themselves a bit at sea.
I have heard repeatedly (as the WSJ article notes) that there are folks who are either shameless enough or feel entitled enough that they bring in their own food or coffee, or purchase nothing, and then complain when asked to make a purchase or leave.
There's nothing new here, but it's interesting to see an old trend get hooked to the latest problem that brings people into "third places," away from home and work--especially given that they may have no work.