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NJ Coffee House Is the Walmart of Bizarre Services

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In a bit about Walmart (WMT) on his Live in Houston album, comedian Louis C.K. referenced the numerous and disparate array of items available under that single blue roof. “Hi, I need a jar of mayonnaise, a stopwatch, and a bible,” he’d ask a hypothetical Wal-Mart sales associate. “I'd like some road flares and a pair of pink panties. A case of motor oil and a blonde wig...and a glass eye.”

But Louis C.K. could have taken the joke about one-stop-shopping a little further -- imagining the big box retailer also offering an unlikely combination of services like, say, tax preparation and paternity tests.    

Little did he know, there actually does exist a single point of contact for a bizarre menu of goods and services inside a small, unassuming coffee shop in downtown Camden, New Jersey. Welcome to City Coffee, where customers can get served a cup of joe with a side of financial planning.

One of the few stalwarts to remain in business in the struggling and crime-ridden Delaware River town, the secret to City Coffee’s success is its head-scratching variety.

“The key to the shop’s comprehensive business plan: Offer as many services as possible to any conceivable customer,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “In the florescent-lit rooms behind espresso machines, walk-in clients can see a notary or submit a urine sample. If that’s not enough, go upstairs to have family portraits taken in the on-site photography studio.”

It gets weirder.

City Coffee is also the hub of the wheelings and dealings of Camden’s law enforcement community. Everyone -- from all sides of the legal spectrum -- is a client. Lawyers, jurors, government bureaucrats, and criminal defendants alike congregate in the space. It helps that the shop’s “operations director” and Jane of all trades, Mona Pryor, is also friendly with a number of judges in town (also customers, naturally) and is often asked to put in a good word.  

“We did about 300 tax returns this season,” said Pryor, who has an associate’s degree in accounting and a number of other specialty certificates. “I do the DNA swabs and the drug testings. I’m one of the only notaries around and I am always marketing the businesses. But I also make a perfect latte.”

One subject the renaissance woman could use some brushing up in? The English language. City Coffee’s Facebook page has the grammar and spelling grasp of a New York City bodega. It counts “Hambugres” and “City Oven Bagles” among its fare and touts, “We delivery and do catering.”

I guess you can’t do it all.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.