For many, tax preparation means headaches and stacks of paperwork. But for some who head to one Camden tax preparer just across from the City Hall, a cup of coffee and a pastry are within arm’s reach.
Just inside City Coffee, tables of customers chat. Don Lee Jones and his brother are relaxing from their jobs as crossing guards.
“They got good food and everything tastes real good. I like their service. I just come in to eat their food,” said Jones.
Down a short hallway and behind the coffee shop, operations manager Mona Pryor sits at a big desk covered with papers. Pryor runs down all the things you can do here — other than get a caffeine fix.
“I do DNA paternity testing. I do financial consulting, business consulting, taxes, and I also do property management.,” Pryor said. “When people come in the coffee house, as a good salesperson, you always up-sell. I’ll be like, ‘Come on in, we do notary services, copying, faxing.’ I let them know!”
Pryor says the cross-promotion works both ways. Tax customers can grab something to eat while they wait. She says most of the clients are repeat customers. They’re not all local — she points to a pile of paperwork and says she prepares taxes for plenty of residents outside New Jersey.
The shop is next door to an H&R Block office. But Pryor, who has a degree in accounting, says she brings experience to this job that some of the other, bigger tax-prep companies can’t promise in every employee.
Getting down to business, Pryor turns her attention to Rachel Walls of Pennsauken. The student, who works full time at Boscov’s, says she knows it’s the last minute but she’s come to get her taxes done.
“This is my first time coming here. The main thing that got me was they did taxes and it was a coffee shop! So OK, I could get some breakfast while I get my taxes done,” said Walls. “I’m gonna do this first, and then get something to eat. And then I’m going to go to work.”
In this busy enterprise, Pryor bounces between business ventures with ease. She pulls out a urine cup for drug testing and a DNA swab kit.
“If you come in for a DNA test, you have to bring the father and the child and we have to swab them,” she explained. “They need to have photo ID’s, Social Security numbers. I take a picture of who I’m swabbing, and then I submit the test to the company that does my lab testing.”
Pryor says the city coffee shop plans to add two more business ventures — an answering service and offices for rent so lawyers appearing in downtown courts can have a place to work for a few hours.