Please take my money

Attended a beautiful farmers market last week in Chicago’s Daley Plaza and bought a bunch of great stuff that we grilled that night on our patio. The array of vegetables and other treats available at this market was impressive.

Only a few of the merchants accepted credit or debit cards, though, which means we couldn’t give our money to a lot of earnest farmers who had such excellent produce for sale. Lucky for us, there were some earnest farmers with equally excellent produce who also lived in the 21st century and were able to take our money for their goods. Commerce!

Yes, the merchants who didn’t accept plastic avoided a small transaction fee, but they also avoided an entire sale (and judging by the number of people using credit or debit cards at this market, they avoided a lot of sales).

For people who are more visual, here’s a chart illustrating the percentage of money we spent at merchants who accepted our cards compared with merchants who didn’t.

One hundred percent of the money we spent at the Daley Plaza farmers market went to merchants who accepted credit/debit cards. Merchants who accepted cash only (or checks!) earned zero of our dollars.

One hundred percent of the money we spent at the Daley Plaza farmers market went to merchants who accepted credit/debit cards. Merchants who accepted cash only (or checks!) earned zero of our dollars.

This topic has come up before, of course, with Kimball’s Peak Three Theater in downtown Colorado Springs. A few years ago, a theater rep snidely told us and the Colorado Springs Independent that “cash is king.” But it looks like cash has been dethroned, since Kimball’s now takes credit cards. Welcome to the future, Kimball’s!

Kimball’s, why don’t you take credit cards?

It’s nice having a downtown movie theater. And it’s nice having a downtown movie theater with a bar. Having a drink while watching a good movie feels so adult. So cosmopolitan. It’s a very good experience.

I love going to movies. Adrienne, having grown up in Los Angeles, doesn’t care as much about it. I guess for her, Hollywood isn’t magic. It’s just everyday life. Movie stars aren’t iconic American legends — they’re just people in ballcaps and big sunglasses clogging up the store’s checkout line with their paparazzi cloud.

At any rate, I can sometimes convince her to go to the movies with me. Last week, we saw “The Company Men,” which is probably a great movie if you’re not a barely-hanging-on journalist just one “reorganization” away from eating out of Dumpsters. I give it a solid B.

But what I’m interested in talking about isn’t the movie. It’s the theater. Kimball’s Peak Three, which is perfect in so many ways, for some reason doesn’t accept credit cards. It’s a big deal.

When a business doesn’t accept credit cards, it’s an insult to customers. It’s a business saying: We’re too cheap to pay the percentage fee on our overpriced goods, so we’re going to inconvenience you to pay our markups with cash. It’s a business saying: We don’t care about you.

Here’s the thing: I’m going to go to the movies more often if you accept credit cards. I’m going to have some popcorn if you accept credit cards. I’m going to have an extra drink if you accept credit cards. And that fee you pay? Charge me extra. I’ll pay it. I already paid $2 to my bank and $1.75 to your ATM in the lobby to get some cash to pay you. That’s money you’re not getting. How about raising my ticket price $2, and you get $2 and I save $1.75. Win-win.

Back when credit was a novelty and everyone carried around cash, it wasn’t a big deal. But that was a generation ago, and it’s apparent if you look at who’s going to Kimball’s. For those of us who don’t pay everything with change and who don’t use walkers, it’s a huge hassle that Kimball’s doesn’t take credit cards. So, please, Kimball’s, I’m not asking you to leap into the future. I’m just asking you to catch up to the present.

  • Movie: B
  • Beer: B-plus
  • Kimball’s: D-minus
The elderly on the way to Kimball's Peak Three in downtown Colorado Springs.

On the way to the movies -- I hope they take all our coins!