Archive for economy
The recall of a car seems to be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of proposition.
General Motors is recalling cars almost as fast as they’re making them, but what is worse—recalling cars or ignoring the problem?
If anyone knows both sides of that sword, it’s GM.
Nearly 14 million GM cars have been recalled in 2014, and the year isn’t half over.
The latest mulligan for General Motors is the Chevy Aveo, which the other day became the 30th GM vehicle to be recalled in 2014. The 218,000 subcompact Aveos brought the grand total of recalled GM cars to 13.8 million.
The latest recall involves Aveos in model years between 2004 and 2008. The daytime running light module in the dashboard center stack can overheat, melt and catch fire.
Of course, nothing is worse than a recall born out of deaths, and GM knows all about that, too—with its infamous ignition switch debacle from earlier this year that is responsible for at least 13 deaths (according to GM; suing lawyers say the number is 53).
No injuries or deaths have been reported as yet in connection with the Aveo recall.
Yes, recalling nearly 14 million cars isn’t the greatest thing for consumer confidence, but neither is under-reporting or non-reporting problems, as might have been the case with the ignition switch thing.
General Motors, which at one time was among the largest and most robust companies in the entire world, has been, to use an appropriate analogy, spinning its wheels in 2014.
The ignition switch problem, which may have gone on for about 10 years before GM did anything about it, is costing the company $35 million in fines.
But again, what is worse—recall or looking the other way?
I’m reminded of the restaurant that is cited for a slew of health violations and is then host for high profile dignitaries after the problems have been addressed, to supposedly prove how safe it is.
Well, of course it’s safe! A restaurant coming off health violations ought to be the safest in town, don’t you think?
Maybe GM cars will soon be among the safest on the road, seeing as they are being built under hawk-like eyes these days.
Regardless, the question begs: why so many recalls in 2014?
Jeff Boyer, GM’s new safety czar, recently told the media that the ignition switch problem led GM to look at a slew of safety issues with its vehicles, and that begat the spate of recalls.
Make that, dollars and cents.
So far in 2014, GM is on the hook for $1.7 billion in recall-related charges.
That’s a lot of dough, but the loss of business already incurred due to the ignition switch mess is incalculable. How do you measure the number of folks who won’t buy your cars?
GM is taking its safety concerns as seriously as ever these days. Boyer, for one, holds the title of vice president, and that’s a first in the area of safety for GM.
My parents used to own GM cars only, because my father worked for the company. Now we own Fords, because my mother is a retiree.
But in comparing the two, I can only report from personal experience that I have had good luck with both GM and Ford cars. My 1986 Chevy Cavalier, for example, was driven hard for six years, racking up nearly 150,000 miles. It was still kicking when we traded it in for our 1992 Mustang.
The Mustang, for its part, is 22 years old and is still running.
It’s been a tough year at GM for many reasons, but at least no one can say that the cars rolling off the assembly lines these days are being given the bum rush.
And isn’t the bum rush what consumers don’t want from their automakers?
The corner video store has turned into the city video store.
Time was that you couldn’t walk much more than 500 feet in any direction without running smack into a joint that rented VHS tapes. Then, you couldn’t walk much more than 2,000 feet without running into a place that rented DVDs.
Now, you can drive for most of a Sunday afternoon without seeing more than a couple video stores.
They close all the time these days, but locally there is a closing that might tug on some heart strings.
I used to go out of my way to venture into Thomas Video. So did everyone else, because there was only one Thomas Video—literally and figuratively.
Thomas Video, the favorite of the intense B-movie fan, is closing up shop. To many, this is like the news of a loved one with a terminal disease passing away. You knew it was coming.
Thomas Video has been located in Royal Oak since 2009, but I remember visiting when it was on Main Street, south of 14 Mile Road, in Clawson.
Like I said, I went out of my way, even when I lived in Warren from 1995-2007.
I went out of my way because there was no place like Thomas Video (TV).
It wasn’t so much about renting movies (maybe that was part of why they went out of business) as it was just taking it all in.
The lighting was drab, the place was littered with old, museum-like television sets and the videos were stuffed onto shelves in a sort of haphazard way. But the appeal was great.
Thomas Video was a destination spot because they carried movies and shlock that no other so-called “big box” store would dare touch.
I’m not talking about Godzilla movies from the 1960s. That was child’s play for TV.
You had to be a hard-core movie historian or dweeb to have heard of half the titles that TV stocked.
There were also shelves upon shelves of hard-to-find industry magazines and books. There was also an impressive selection of comic books, almost as a complement to the movies—or maybe to keep with the nerdy theme.
Personally, I only rented a few titles. I mainly went there to browse. Maybe in a way I am partly responsible for the store’s closing.
Even TV’s owners saw the writing on the wall.
“We probably should have done this a long time ago,” co-owner Jim Olenski told the Detroit Free Press. “Business has been really bad over the last few years.”
TV started in 1977, right about when home video started to take off. But Olenski blames video-on-demand, NetFlix and other movie-viewing platforms for chomping into TV’s customer base.
Thomas Video co-owner Jim Olenski in the late-1990s
The sad irony is that while those methods of watching movies have indeed taken down a bunch of video stores, TV prided itself on notbeing one of the bunch.
The appeal of Thomas Video was that you could find titles there that literally no one else offered. Yet that novelty wasn’t enough to keep TV going, apparently.
TV wasn’t just a store for hard-to-find titles. It also functioned as an intimate location for cult celebrities like The Ghoul and actor Bruce Campbell (“Evil Dead”) to hang out and sign autographs.
Olenski put it best, in a self-tribute to him and partner Gary Reichel.
“We wanted to be the last video store standing, and we almost were.”
Olenski and Reichel did better than many others who didn’t have the guts or the vision to stock the titles that Thomas Video offered.
In fact, maybe that’s why they survived for as long as they did.
A few weeks ago, hurried and on my lunch break, I stepped into the Barnes and Noble bookstore in downtown Royal Oak. My goal was simple: purchase a newspaper.
Every Friday I cash my paycheck in Royal Oak and then take in lunch somewhere in town. But I’m one of these people who can’t eat alone if I don’t have something to read. Hence the newspaper.
My usual provider, the gas station by the bank, was out of papers, so I remembered B&N.
The bank took longer than usual, so the sands in the hourglass were dwindling. But hey, it’s only a newspaper, right?
The newspapers at B&N are located behind the cashier’s counter. They’re not self-serve.
So first I had to wait for a cashier, which knocked off precious seconds from my meal time. But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part came when I voiced my request.
“Detroit News,” please, I said to the college-aged cashier.
He retrieved it. I had my dollar ready, eager to pay, leave, and look for sustenance to jam down my throat.
He needed to scan the newspaper, and that took a few tries before it beeped.
“Are you a Rewards member?” he asked.
No, I am not, I told him, as I jabbed the dollar toward him.
“E-mail please?” he asked.
My jaw dropped.
“For a newspaper?”
He gave me a sheepish look. “I just want to see if you’re in the system.”
Again, I said, “For a newspaper?” although with much more irritation in my voice.
By this time I sort of tossed the dollar toward him. But he still clutched my newspaper, holding it hostage.
He could see that I was not a happy camper—my annoyance was hardly subtle—and he looked at his co-worker, as if unsure of what to do with a man who just wanted to buy a newspaper and who wasn’t a Rewards member and who didn’t want to provide his e-mail address in order to purchase said newspaper.
I had had enough.
“I’m in a hurry. Can I just please have my newspaper?” I said.
Finally he relinquished it.
Now, this entire exchange obviously took less time than it did for you to read about it, but when you’re in a hurry and all you want to do is buy a newspaper for one dollar and you can’t do it without being asked about memberships and e-mails, your stomach grumbling, each second translates to ten times its length.
Thankfully, my normal newspaper provider (gas station) hasn’t run out of papers since. And if they do, I’ll be damned if I wander into B&N to purchase one. I’ll do without, or try to find a box dispenser.
I love the gas station, by the way. I grab a paper, give the attendant a dollar, and walk away. If there is someone ahead of me in line who is buying cigarettes or lottery tickets (don’t get me started), I just put the dollar on the counter, wave my newspaper so it is seen, then walk away. The attendant has my back.
At the gas station they don’t need to scan the paper. At the gas station they don’t ask me any questions. All they do is take my dollar and tell me to have a nice day. I love the gas station.
But this inconvenience, such as displayed at B&N, is happening all over. The ability to make simple purchases without being asked to present membership cards or provide phone numbers and e-mail addresses is slipping away from us. K-mart asks if you want a paper receipt or one e-mailed to you—even if all you’re buying is a gallon of milk. And the answer you give can’t be verbal—it has to be registered on their debit card thingy.
But hey, this is progress, right?
Kevyn Orr is just like any Washington, D.C. bankruptcy attorney who is black, who has a strong resume, and who oozes confidence.
Except that he’s been plucked from the vine to save a city that some say is beyond saving.
Orr is Detroit’s new Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). He is unique in that, while he’s a bankruptcy lawyer and has been a part of many such restructurings, he actually would prefer not to lead the city into bankruptcy as a way to cure what ails it.
“Frankly, I’d like to avoid it,” Orr told the Detroit News’ Nolan Finley. “Bankruptcy can certainly have benefits to what the emergency manager would have to do, but I would like to think of that as a last resort as opposed to a first option. No, I don’t think we’re inevitably headed to bankruptcy, but people have got to be realistic, reasonable and focused on changing the architecture of the finances of the city so they can go into a sustainable model for the future.”
Orr might be the most delusional man in America. He calls the Detroit EFM job “the Olympics of restructuring,” yet he says the job could be done not within the planned 18 months, but three to six months, “if people in a collegial and good faith basis could get together.”
Ahh, more delusional thoughts. Words like “collegial” and “good faith basis” are not normally indigenous to the machinations of Detroit.
But Orr is confident, and with a connection to Michigan, professionally (“this is the state that gave me my start”), and a University of Michigan graduate, he says he felt “compelled” to take the EFM job when Governor Rick Snyder came calling.
“(This could be) something I can tell my grandkids about.”
Orr is 54. With the decisions he has to make, and the enormity of the task before him, you would think his main objective would be to make it to 55.
But at least the City Council dropped plans for a lawsuit to stop the EFM, albeit temporarily, from taking over. Orr officially starts his new job on March 28. Be thankful for small favors.
The good news, I suppose, is that Orr doesn’t seem to think that the turnaround of Detroit is an impossible task. Difficult? Yes. History making, potentially? Double yes. But not impossible.
But Kevyn Orr might not be so delusional after all.
“I’m prepared to be the most hated man for a period of time,” Orr told Finley.
That may be the most intuitive thing anyone in a leadership role in the city of Detroit has ever said.
How long before video stores go the way of travel agencies?
Remember the local travel agent? They’d advertise on local TV and they had tiny offices with globes on the signs and maps on the walls. You’d ring them up if you wanted a surrogate to get you the best deal on a hotel in Chicago or a rental car in Boston.
Then the Internet struck, with its multitude of websites, and the American traveler became his or her own travel agent. The middle man, as so often has happened after the Internet, was cut out, like a tumor.
Why pay someone to do something that we could do for free, and still get discounts to boot?
So I wonder about the fate of the corner video store.
Actually, you may have to drive past quite a few corners before you find a video store these days.
NetFlix, the Red Box kiosks, the Internet (of course) and more people owning BluRay discs than DVDs, are all contributing to the slow death of the local video store, I’m afraid.
But some of it is the video store’s own doing.
Take late fees. Please.
One of the allures to the above alternatives to renting movies is that none of them will charge you a late fee. And late fees, if we’re just talking between us, is surely a big revenue gainer in the video rental business.
One of the reasons why late fees are so common is that the due dates for the movies are all over the map.
This one’s due in two days. That one’s due in three days. You have a full week on that other one. Oops, better get THIS one back TOMORROW. Or else.
We used to run a late fee balance at one of the local stores like a drunk would a bar tab.
Even asking for a printout of the due dates, which the store gladly provided, didn’t always prevent Video A, B or C frome being brought back tardy.
But here’s the deal: video stores must be feeling the heat from their competitors. So why not back off on the late fees? And I have just the idea to make that happen, and make the video store more attractive.
If I ran a video store, I’d advertise that every movie in the joint, from A to Z, was a one-week rental. Every single one.
Doesn’t matter if it’s a “new release.” Doesn’t matter if it came out on Tuesday, or 12 years ago. Every one of my films, you can have for a week.
Simple. Easy to remember.
Will people still be tardy, even under that arrangement? Sure. But that’s on them.
I’d even call my place One Week Video. Seriously.
Think of it. You come in, browse, grab a bunch of movies, pay me and know that everything is due one week from today. Simple. No muss, no fuss.
I’d even have seven different types of bags, each with a day of the week on it. You come in on a Monday, you get a Monday Bag. And so on.
“Honey, when are these movies due back?”
“What does the bag say?”
Of course, you go beyond the seven-day limit, and we have a problem. But I won’t tag you for very much. Promise.
It’s an idea that makes far too much sense, which is why it won’t be adopted.
Which is part of why the video store will join the travel agent, the drive-in movie and mini-golf in the Dungeon of the Forgotten.
Sooner, rather than later.
The sandwich board is making a comeback.
I’m not talking about literal sandwiches here, like the kind you eat.
I’m talking the term often used for the signs those poor folks are holding or wearing these days, hawking a variety of retail outlets, from cell phone stores to oil change places.
The sandwich board was so named because of its original incarnation, which was usually two pieces of wood, connected with rope or twine, which the wearer would sling over his shoulders, advertising on the front and back, creating a sort of human “sandwich.”
The sandwich boards started showing up in earnest in the late-1920s and early-1930s, which were, not coincidentally, the days of the Great Depression. But in those days, often the human sandwich was promoting himself, not any company.
The sandwich board is back, but in a more streamlined fashion. It used to be that the only businesses in recent years who commissioned people to stand on the curb and wave people in, holding a sign, were car washes (the fundraising kind) and, during tax season, tax preparers (with typically someone dressed as Lady Liberty or Uncle Sam).
Now, there are so many sandwich boards and signs out there, I’m surprised they’re not bumping into each other.
There’s this one dude who works for one of those companies that buys and sells gold. I see him every Friday when I’m on my way to cash my check on Rochester Road, and I have seen him for over a year now, rain, snow or shine. He wears headphones and is swiveling his sign like mad, all the time. And I just see him on Fridays. Doubtless he works the whole week as well.
The thing is—and granted, it’s hard to tell just by driving by at 40 mph once a week—he seems perfectly happy to be doing it. Not bored at all. He walks up and down, forward and back, swiveling his sign.
To be honest, I don’t even know where his employer’s store is located. I only see him, not the actual store front.
But he’s there, every week, with his gold sign with black print, walking up and down that tiny stretch of Rochester Road. He looks to be in his 20s, and physically fit.
I wonder what they pay people these days to be human sandwiches?
Back in the day, the sandwich board advertised people, not businesses
Is it worth the cost? Is such advertising really effective? Using my Friday Guy as an example, maybe not. You’ll notice I have made mention of driving by him, but not knowing the name of his company, nor exactly where the store is located. And I’ve seen him do his thing for well over a year.
Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of having him there?
I also drive by an oil change place every night on my way home from work. That dude strays from the sidewalk, however, and damn near stands on the street. Kind of dangerous, if you ask me.
But again, does his presence make me want to get my oil changed?
Does any human sandwich influence your wanting to drop some dollars at the sandwich’s business?
Regardless, there’s no question that the human sandwiches are increasing in number. I guess it’s the new wave of guerrilla marketing.
We’ve come a long way, I guess, since “Eat at Joe’s” was the sandwich board of the day.
Not sure if that’s good or bad.
I have this crazy, mixed up thought that the politicians we elect are supposed to represent those of us who elected them.
Yet there is one man who has a Svengali-like hold on the Republican wing of Congress, a hold that I’m not sure is disturbing, annoying, reprehensible or all of the above.
His name is Grover Norquist, and apparently Grover’s interests and marching orders trump those of the electorate when it comes to the GOP members of Congress.
Norquist, back in 1985, started Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), apparently at the behest of President Ronald Reagan. Norquist has never held political office, nor has ever run for so much as city councilman. Yet he has somehow managed to convince dozens of Congressmen (and women) to be his lapdogs.
Norquist is the originator of The Pledge, which holds to the fire the feet of every member of Congress (and Senate) who has taken it. It’s a pledge to never raise taxes, under any circumstances.
From Norquist’s Wiki page: Prior to the November 2012 election, 238 of 242 House Republicans and 41 out of 47 Senate Republicans had signed ATR’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”, in which the pledger promises to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
“I’ll have to check with Grover,” one of the new U.S. Reps from Michigan actually said when the Detroit Free Press recently asked if that rep would support modest tax increases on the wealthy.
I’ll have to check with Grover?
The GOP is no longer a party; it’s a political cult. And Norquist is their Jim Jones.
Norquist has steadfastly refused to reveal the identity of those who fund his ATR, but it’s widely speculated that the contributors are wealthy individuals, foundations and corporate interests. Big surprise, I know.
I have a fundamental problem with a non-elected person—Norquist himself; he IS the ATR—wielding so much power and influence over those elected and who are sworn to represent their constituents.
As the nation teeters on the brink of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” Norquist has become front and center in the debate, as one-time sensible, independent thinking politicians have been revealed instead to be members of Norquist’s cult.
There isn’t any wiggle room for common sense, reasoning or debate in ATR’s pledge. Only now are some pledge takers beginning to see the light of the oncoming freight train and backing away from Norquist’s outdated, outrageous pledge.
Norquist appears to be a one-man lobby and special interest, all by himself. He wields power a lot of elected officials could only dream of having.
As long as actual members of Congress are saying things like “I’ll have to check with Grover” when confronted with issues affecting our national economy and children’s future, something is seriously wrong.
You want to talk about pledges?
How about the one to the American people.
It’s not rocket science to declare that, when running as a presidential incumbent, it’s better to run on a campaign of “Look what I did”, instead of “Just give me a little more time,” i.e. four years.
It’s looking like President Obama has been opting for the latter option.
It’s said that people vote for president from the inside out, meaning that they assess their own personal situation first, before they consider any state, national or international consequences.
Makes sense. Taking care of Number 1 isn’t necessarily a selfish, arrogant thing to do. Who else is going to do it?
The latest jobs numbers came out, and for Obama, less than four months away from Election Day, they could be better.
Just 80,000 jobs added in June. Unemployment rate stubbornly remaining at 8.2%. Economic experts suggesting that the brief recovery may have already petered out.
It’s the economy, stupid. Isn’t it?
It hardly matters that the president, in reality, has limited influence, by himself, over the national economy and jobs creation. It takes a village to raise an economic child, re: Congress, the states, and the Executive Branch.
But as Harry Truman espoused, “The buck stops here.” Obama will, rightly or wrongly, take the hit if the jobs numbers remain sluggish come fall.
The economy, frankly, is the only thing that is preventing the dynamic president from trouncing the stiff, less-than-brilliant, hoof-in-mouth Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
Obama has, so far, been forced to run a campaign that is a little more defensive than he would prefer. OK, maybe a LOT more defensive. The president is at his best when he’s on the attack, being proactive and framing a vision.
Then again, isn’t any candidate?
Obama, in 2008, was the attack dog, going after George W. Bush and assailing the president on his eight-year track record, and then doing a wonderful job in casting John McCain as someone who would simply be a Bush in McCain clothing.
It was a campaign filled with enthusiasm, vision, and that four-letter political word, hope.
2012 sees a much different Obama—one that doesn’t resonate as well and one who isn’t in his comfort zone.
Obama, until now, hasn’t really ever had to defend anything, politically. His has been a career of looking forward and asking that Bobby Kennedy question (as channeled by Teddy), “Why not?”
Now, Obama must ask a bastardized version of that.
“Why not give me another term?”
The president talking to patrons at an Ohio diner, on the campaign trail
It’s a question he doesn’t relish, and not just because the answers he will get are liable to be plentiful and soaked with battery acid.
It’s a question born of weakness, and Obama has never been about weakness in any political campaign.
The message that Obama and his campaign people ought to be drilling into the skulls of American voters, especially the so-called independent ones, is very simple.
Stay the course.
Now THAT can be a message filled with courage, determination and mettle.
Just think of the metaphors, some of them encapsulated in great moments in history.
The first that comes to mind is the brave ship captain, insisting his crew plow forward, because past these storms are blue skies, dry land and a bounty.
It takes more courage and guile, sometimes, to stay the course than to veer off at the first sign of trouble.
The second part of the message is to clearly identify why staying the course is wise instead of stubborn.
But that’s it, basically. Obama needs to convince the majority of the electorate that his way is best, despite the seemingly gloomy June jobs numbers.
He needs to stop defending and start defining.
There’s a difference, you know.
Ever wonder what happened to Winkelman’s? Jacobson’s? Uniroyal?
What about Farmer Jack? Great Scott? A&P?
Stroh’s? Twin Pines? Pants Galore?
Fretter Appliance? Belvedere and Bond-Bilt? New York Carpet World?
Highland Appliance? Sanders? Kresge?
Cunningham’s? Red Barn? Burger Chef?
To name a few.
And that’s just a percentage of the businesses, mostly local, that no longer exist but which I remember in my days growing up in Livonia in the 1970s.
I remember the commercials for many of the aforementioned as well.
Ollie Fretter promised us a five pound bag of coffee if he couldn’t beat our best deal. Mr. Belvedere’s phone number was TYler 8-7100.
TV newscaster Marilyn Turner did commercials for Carpet Center, flashing her gams. The Highland Appliance spots were legendary, often featuring local (and sometimes national) celebrities.
Irving Nussbaum proudly said that New York Carpet World was “the better carpet people.”
Mel Farr flew through the sky with a cape, promising a “Farr better deal.”
Remember listening to the radio and suddenly it was “Farmer Jack savings time”?
The Twin Pines man, I have written about before. I can still see the bright green trucks.
There was a Kresge in Universal Mall in Warren, back when it wasn’t unusual to find drugstores and “five and dimes” in malls.
I also fondly recall the outdoor signs of the retailers and restaurants back in the day.
One word comes to mind—two, actually: BIG and garish. And they often rotated on an axis.
Think about the Arby’s signs of the day: the HUGE 10 gallon hat with ARBY’S ROAST BEEF SANDWICH IS DELICIOUS spelled on it.
Now THAT’S a sign!
Little Caesars had its namesake rotating above the pizzeria, a pie impaled on his spear.
Kentucky Fried Chicken joints had the big, rotating buckets. Union 76 gas stations had that round, orange ball with 76 on it, twice. It rotated, too.
If they weren’t rotating or spinning, the signs were lit like the Vegas Strip.
The ’60s and ’70s signs were big on lightning bolt-like arrows and anything that flashed or changed colors intermittently.
I swear the signs of those times must have weighed several tons.
Look at a Holiday Inn sign now and then compare it to those of 35-40 years ago. The older versions were, again, big and garish with the script “Holiday Inn” brightly lit with sparkling lights.
There was nothing compact about those days.
Today, as those companies have long ago withered away, we’re mostly stuck with “big box retailers” and franchises that I don’t really trust.
And their commercials stink. And their signs are too small. And they don’t light up right.
I’m a man who actually doesn’t mind going shopping at Target.
I know I’m in the minority. I know a trip to Target, for most men, is one that is commonly accompanied by kicking and screaming.
But I have an ulterior motive for treks to Target: popcorn and soda.
It’s a hidden gem, I tell you.
At Target—at least the one near our house—you can get a decent size bag of popcorn and a medium-sized drink for $1.99.
So while Mrs. Eno grabs a shopping cart and sets out to cross off her list, I make a beeline for the snack counter to grab my deal of the century.
For $2.11, after tax, I can munch on fresh popcorn and sip an icy cold drink, like a child, while my better half shops.
Oh, I’m not stodgy or protective. I absolutely offer my wife popcorn and pop throughout our shopping visit. So I’m sharing the wealth.
Popcorn and a pop for $2.11.
I bring this up because a similar combo, at your neighborhood movie house, would set you back about $8-10. Easy.
The Free Press ran a story yesterday about why concessions are so expensive at movie theaters. A theater owner, Jon Goldstein (Maple Theater, Bloomfield Hills), offered up a relatively unsurprising “explanation.”
It’s simply an example, Goldstein says, of theaters passing costs onto the consumer.
Good, old fashioned American capitalism, in other words.
He also blamed us messy moviegoers.
“The life of a popcorn seed would actually be very interesting, from getting popped to putting into a bucket, to where it ends up at the end of the day, whether it’s in someone’s stomach or smushed into the seats or the floors of the theater,” said Goldstein in the Freep story.
“If people would spill that popcorn in the living room as they do in the movie theater, I think they would understand the labor costs that go into running a concession stand in a busy movie theater.”
I have spilled my share of popcorn in the living room. But cleaning it up certainly wouldn’t run me a fortune in paid labor.
Even extrapolated to the rows of seats in a theater, I can’t imagine how sweeping popcorn from the floor equals $10 for a bucket and a soda.
But at least Goldstein spoke on the subject, which has mostly been dealt with with rolling eyes from consumers and little explanation from theater owners.
Yet Goldstein’s comments about why concession prices are so high smack of greed and gouging—by movie studios. The price of a ticket—also high—apparently goes mostly back into the studios’ coffers, Goldstein says.
“If we can’t keep a majority of that ticket price there’s only one way that we can pay for everything……and that’s at the concession stand,” Goldstein said.
Understood. A theater guy’s gotta make a living.
Just think how high the prices would be if the employees were paid more than $7 an hour.
The above sentence isn’t fact-based; I’m guessing. But I can’t imagine that theater owners, already crying foul over having to raise concession prices to make a buck, are paying their employees—who are mainly teenagers—much more than peanuts.
I don’t think Goldstein is a bad guy. I don’t think theater owners, in general, are bad guys. But still, the prices seem awfully high, don’t they?
Goldstein did say something that I respect.
“If you treat your customers like they are not smart, then they are going to do things that are not smart, but if you treat customers with respect and with honesty then you usually get that in return as well.”
I like that philosophy.
But there’s also this, which will continue to happen until the end of days.
“If you have to make money, that’s fine,” said Amber Hunt, 29, of Ferndale. “But more people are just going to be sneaking in candy like me.”
Now, if they start screening movies at Target, you think the $1.99 popcorn/pop special will go away?
In a Hollywood minute.