Easily accessible public gathering space is missing from many American cities, replaced instead by privately owned hangouts like the coffee shop and the bookstore. While both of these make great places to people watch and talk with friends, many communities don't have one within walking distance.
But why let Starbucks have all the fun? Just because you own a hardware store or a dry cleaning business doesn't mean you can't throw some bistro tables outside and give away free coffee. While you're at it, convert some of those parking spaces into an outdoor patio with some shade trees and your space will out-ambiance the cafe down the street. There's also no need to pressure people to buy anything - if you're the hardware store that has a miniature park out front where you host a monthly workshop series on DIY home repair, odds are people will remember you when they need a new hammer.
Ideally, cities should be able to provide multi-use public space for residents within walking distance of their homes. In already developed areas where such property doesn't currently exist, however, business owners could help fill the void.