So do you think cash will go away? Will enough stores reject cash that we stop using it?
I hope not. I like cash. I like cash in my wallet and my fingers and I like to count cash and use paper money wherever I go. But many people, I guess, don’t feel the same.
My first brush with the cashless society came for me at the Whole Foods 365 on Yale. Wait, can we still say 365? I think they are dropping the 365 part. OK, back to cash. There is a coffee bar in that store and my wife ordered something from it.
I don’t drink coffee but I had my wallet and she had no purse so she told me to pay. I pulled out a $10 bill.
“I’m sorry but we don’t accept cash,” the clerk said. I asked why and was told the coffee bar was on an “environmental sustainability program.” She handed me a paper receipt after I swiped my debit card. Paper comes from trees and trees are a renewable resource. I guess that makes sense.
Folks, please don’t email me and tell me Whole Foods accepts cash. I know they do. In fact, they will let you get up to a $100 cash back when making a purchase there. Jeff Bezos has cash. This coffee bar is not part of the store, the way I understand it, but a tenant.
So I wanted to tell the clerk that her employer’s stance on cash discriminated against the poor and disadvantaged who may not have access to the traditional banking system that can yield a debit card. When you are given a liberal response about cash destroying the planet, it is often best to dive into the liberal playbook respond with something on the left.
But my wife beckoned me to move on from the coffee bar. I don’t know how this cashless thing is going to play out. Last month I was at Junior’s Produce on Airline Drive, nice place by the way, and behind Junior’s are lots and lots of booths of people selling produce and food products. It is like a market in Mexico.
A lot of the vendors were dealing in cash. I saw one vendor who had a wad of cash in his hands as round as a large Folgers coffee can. I grinned at him. It had definitely been a good day for this guy.
Here is something else that is changing in business: The ideal that a business should meet a customer’s needs is going away. The cashless people are saying if you want to buy here, you do it our way or get out. I was always taught to give the customer lots of entry points into your business. That is a way to grow sales and be inclusive.
In Philadelphia, the city council there has passed a law banning restaurants from banning cash. The council passed the law because it doesn’t want people shut out of restaurants and stores. I don’t like it when government steps in and tells businesses how to run. If the businesses want to disenfranchise parts of their customer base, that is their choice.
A better answer, if you like cash, is to stay out of businesses that don’t accept cash. My wife and I have not returned to the trendy coffee bar in Whole Foods 365, although we still go to Whole Foods 365.
The cashless people say cash promotes theft. So do debit cards. Last fall I was caught up in the skimmer scam in this area after buying gasoline at a Valero station north of 610. My bank shut down my debit card but never told me. I ended up traveling out of town. It’s pretty disturbing when your debit card is cancelled when you are 40 miles from home at a gas station.
Good thing I had cash.
Robb Reeves is a friend to Leader publisher Jonathan McElvy and an occasional contributor to this page.