Sander Hicks is a former book publisher (he ran Soft Skull Press), a proselytizer for the 9/11 conspiracy-theory movement, and proprietor of a politicized coffee shop/bookstore called Vox Pop in Flatbush that he dreams of building into a national chain rivaling Starbucks. With his second location set to open (inside the Bowery Poetry Club in the East Village), he spoke to Jeff Koyen.
What is Vox Pop?
It's an experimental business that's a hybrid of socialism, anarchism, and the best of I would say baby-boomer capitalism. Or punk-rock capitalism: Capitalism that's into abolishing capitalism as we know it.
What does that mean?
I've had moderate success at running a business that's a little bit (or a lot) different from every other business or boss that I've ever worked for. I care a lot more.
Like employing some of the world's last Wobblies, members of the Industrial Workers of the World?
This is something we created there. It's not like we brought in Wobblies; we had an election a couple years ago. But to be honest, the union isn't super-active at Vox Pop 1. They spend a lot of their energy and time and vitriol against Starbucks.
But you, too, want thousands of locations. How will you raise the money?
Because as fucked-up as America is, people still want to believe in the American Dream. Vox Pop is capitalism in its best, purest sense. Not capitalism of Starbucks or McDonald's, but capitalism of, "Hey, there's a bountiful world out there; God loves you. Sure, there's a world of evil and corruption, but people can take their stand and figure out for themselves what they really believe and what they really want to do."