The Dollar on the Wall

Posted on May 26, 2014

There’s likely a dollar on the wall at your favorite local establishment. It could be framed, and maybe the dollar has writing on it or is accompanied by a photo of the proprietor with a smiley-faced person, the first customer. I like the idea of that dollar. The first dollar. In my earliest memories of my parents’ Dairy Queen store, that framed dollar was on the wall in my dad’s office. Being a counter service place, there wasn’t a wall out front that wasn’t being utilized by business to hold such a framed dollar. So it was in the office. There was no photo with it, and I assume as years went by and my dad opened many restaurants, that the documentation for exactly who the first customer was became less about showing it and more about remembering it. I wonder now if there is a box somewhere in my parents’ garage with a few framed one dollar bills. Probably.

I got an invoice yesterday from my web developer (the first Mme C website is up!). It was a paypal invoice with the number 0001. I’m not her first client, this was not her first invoice, but the idea of being the first invoice delivered via Paypal got me thinking. I remembered awhile back I was Paypal invoice number 0001 for Tejas Chocolate. When the invoice arrived in my email inbox, I kinda squealed with glee. It seemed to me that I was witnessing, and a part of, the start of something big. It was true.

But would they remember me as the first customer without that dollar bill on the wall?

With all of our credit card transactions today, does the acknowledgement of that “first” customer still exist?

I tried out the question this morning at the new Tacodeli location in Westlake. This store is the 4th to open in Austin. I had the pleasure of visiting with Eric Wilkerson the owner for a short time today, and I asked if they kept their first dollar for each store. Eric said yes, somewhere in some box or drawer or envelope is the first dollar bill from the first customer of the first Tacodeli. That was years ago, and credit cards are so much more prevalent today even for under $10 taco transactions. And for the second store opening? He absolutely remembers that one, and the name of the customer. Today, in the men’s restroom at the Gracy Farms location, you can see that dollar on the wall. It’s framed. That’s immortalization.

It may be just another haircut, hamburger, bonbon, or cup of coffee. But there’s something about a business that you can walk into and see that YOURS is that dollar on the wall.

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