Our friends at Neocash Radio talked about the opening of Free State Bitcoin Shoppe on their hilarious and informative podcast this week. We grabbed an audio clip from their conversation to share with you. Have a listen and a laugh! Darren was so smitten by our adorable, soft Doge pillows that he came in the next day and bought out our entire supply! (Don’t worry, we immediately restocked, and you’ll receive a 15% discount on this item when you pay in Doge!)
Yesterday after an amazing lobster BLT, lobster roll, and seafood chowder at River House, my partner Steven asked our server if he’d ever heard of bitcoin. Of course, he had. His college macroeconomics professor bought some bitcoin 5 years ago, and today the value of his bitcoin has quintupled. Our server said he’d like to get some but didn’t know how.
Delighted, we told him we love to use bitcoin and use it all the time — to buy things online like hotels and plane tickets and also things in Portsmouth like tickets to the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, Bikram Yoga classes, and dinners at STREET restaurant. He was amazed. He asked how people get it.
Steven told him there is a bitcoin vending machine inside the Seacoast Rep where you scan your phone and then feed in paper bills, and it sends bitcoin right to your phone. I told him that the easiest way to get bitcoin is to take it in exchange for a good or service that you sell. For example, Steven asked his last company to pay his salary in bitcoin. I charged bitcoin in exchange for placing ads in my YouTube videos.
Steven offered that if our server sets up a bitcoin wallet, Steven would gladly double his tip, giving him both cash and bitcoin. The server thought that was cool and said maybe next time we could tip him with bitcoin. I said, “How about right now?”
He took out his phone, and we told him to search the app store for “Mycelium”. (That’s the bitcoin wallet I recommend to everyone because it provides the greatest privacy in that no personally identifying data such as name or email is captured. It’s a simple, tiny app for sending and receiving bitcoin. The app downloaded in a few seconds, he opened it, pressed the “New Wallet” button, and immediately saw a QR code with his new bitcoin address. I scanned it and sent $10 (0.00443506 BTC). He tucked his phone back into his pocket and thanked us, saying, “What are your names again?” asking us to repeat our names. He cleared our table while I texted Steven the address, and Steven was able to double his tip on our way out.
Of course, we also left a cash tip so that our awesome server can have something to pay his bills. But now he also has a scarce digital resource as well – the world’s most popular cryptocurrency! What he buys with it is his business — totally outside the reach of controlling banks and snooping governments. It could be a meal at STREET restaurant in Portsmouth, some Bikram Yoga classes, a donation to WikiLeaks, or even recreational drugs on the dark market. No one would know, and free people like it that way.
TL;DR: Accept bitcoin as a tip for something you already do.
[UPDATE: As of July 22, 2 days after this post, the value of the server’s tip had increased from $20 to $25. Not bad. How many more servers would like to see receive tips that 1) they don’t have to claim, and 2) increase in purchasing power, and 3) allow them to shop online outside the watchful eye of banks and governments?]
This morning the Portsmouth Bitcoin Network held a meetup at the Fresh Press, a locally-owned healthy organic juice and salad bar. It was awesome! City Councillor Joshua Cyr, co-owner of AlphaLoft, Portsmouth’s first bitcoin-accepting business, attended, as did one of the managers of STREET, Portsmouth’s favorite bitcoin-accepting restaurant!
A few of us ordered delicious juices, a cold brew, and the avocado chop salad with chicken. We pulled up some chairs to a table and the conversation quickly began. “What do you guys think of BIP 91?” BIP 91 is “Bitcoin Implementation Protocol #91” and it would do two things: (from CoinDesk.com)
It makes it significantly easier for the network to adopt Segregated Witness (SegWit), a backward compatible upgrade that fixes transaction malleability and clears the path for off-chain solutions like Lightning Network.
If activated by July 31, BIP 91 will supersede BIP 148, a proposal that poses a risk of causing the network to split.
We then moved to philosophy of bitcoin: How did you get into it? What do you do with it? Where would you like to see the crypto world go from here? When will we see currencies like bitcoin and ethereum and Dash in use at everyday establishments?
It seemed about half of attendees use bitcoin and crypto for ideological reasons (increased privacy, independence from central banks) and the other half for practical reasons (lower fees, faster & easier payments, investment).
Steven, co-owner of Free State Bitcoin Shoppe on State St in Portsmouth expressed a desire to pay property tax to the Corporation “The City of Portsmouth” (of which he recently became a stake-holder) in bitcoin. He reasoned that the purchasing power would likely grow while the purchasing power of dollars diminishes over time, so it would help taxpayers get the most services for their tax bill. Plus, it would decrease the city’s dependence on the Washington DC bureaucrats and their minions by offering an alternative currency to the Federal Reserve Note.
Concillor Cyr expressed doubt that such an arrangement would be legal under current law, but noted that the crypto-friendly NH state legislature could pass a bill that explicitly permitted cities to hold a portion of their funds in bitcoin as if they were US dollars.
We talked about how bitcoin is both a currency and a payment network, and that it competes with both the dollar and processors such as Visa. These are hurdles for adoption in Portsmouth, since the convenience of credit cards is hard to beat. However, the knowledge that the Federal Reserve inflates the money supply to fund wars of aggression may be enough to encourage pro-peace Portsmouth residents to use bitcoin whenever possible.
We also shared some cool things happening in the crypto-sphere: Dash (digital cash) is taking prominence over bitcoin on the seacoast among small, independent entrepreneurs. Decentraland is an alt-coin with a recent ICO that offers plots of virtual territory that users can develop in a digital ecosystem with others.
We concluded by exchanging contact info. The next meetup is at River House in Portsmouth at 8pm Thursday, July 27. Attendance is expected to be around 10-12 people, and the main topic will be the upcoming hard (soft?) fork on Aug 1.
Although the new store opening today in Portsmouth, New Hampshire may appear to be another small town gift shop, it is the first store of its kind in the world. “We’ll take any crypto-currency: Dogecoin, Dash, Ether, Bitcoin…but no dollars, thank you,” says Steven Zeiler. He and Derrick Freeman are co-owners of Free State Bitcoin Shoppe, a “crypto-only” retail store – located at 56 State St.
“We believe it’s better money,” says Freeman, “and our mission is to help Portsmouth transition to an inflation-proof currency that’s publicly accountable.” Unlike dollars, there is a fixed amount of bitcoin. Similar to gold, bitcoins are divisible and used all over the world.
The store’s first customer was a tourist visiting from Vietnam. “There’s a big bitcoin market there,” she said. She paid from a wallet on her mobile phone and didn’t need to convert currencies.
The governments of Japan and South Korea officially recognized bitcoin as legal tender earlier this year, causing a huge increase in adoption. At the same time, the New Hampshire legislature passed a bill deregulating all digital currency in the state, encouraging entrepreneurs to move here and for tech startups to break ground in the Granite State.
Zeiler left a lucrative job as a developer at a Silicon Valley company to move to Portsmouth because, he says, “the people of New Hampshire are way ahead of the game in terms of sound money and adoption of bitcoin, and obviously Portsmouth is the coolest part of New Hampshire.”
The store sells unique crypto-themed gifts, seditious books, libertarian art, pro-science t-shirts, and loads of “Live Free Or Die” propaganda. They also offer Premium WiFi and cold brew coffee that’s locally produced in Portsmouth for those who want to hang out and get some work done by the park, or just enjoy one of their many bitcoin-themed movies in the air conditioning.