Tokyo Smoke Coffee Shop’s Video Prank Highlights Issue of ‘Pink Tax’

Article by Susan Krashinsky, The Globe and Mail


For a marketing guy, the experience was “excruciating” – telling customers that they were intentionally being fleeced.

It was mid-September, and at the Tokyo Smoke coffee shop in downtown Toronto, customers were seething as employees pointed out new gender-based pricing for their beverages – an eight-ounce drip coffee, for example, was $2 for men and $3.50 for women; a cold brew was $5 for men and $6.50 for women; and so on.

Tokyo Smoke has also seen a few new customers this week, who dropped by after spotting the coffee shop in the video. The concept of advocacy is a fit for the store’s brand: while it sells coffee, sandwiches and juices, it also sells marijuana accessories such as rolling papers and advocates for marijuana legalization. Last month, it partnered with Leamington, Ont.-based licensed medical cannabis producer Aphria Inc., which will begin selling Tokyo Smoke-branded cannabis by the end of this year.

“It fits with who we are,” Mr. Lyon said. Watching the conversations that came out of the stunt were instructive for him as well: He was not aware of the issue before GirlTalkHQ approached the shop about filming there.

“The conversations were really eye-opening,” he said. “A lot were saying they would never come back to the shop. It hurt at the time. … In the end it will probably be a good thing for us. Hopefully people will realize we’re fostering communication.”

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