Merchants here need to be smarter


To the Editor:

There is a general consensus that locals should attempt to do business with local merchants. I have to secure a new passport, and therefore needed to have two small photos of myself. I called a local store that performs this service, and they quoted me a price of $13.50. That seemed a little high for something that would take less than five minutes, from taking the photo to turning over the photos to me.

Just by chance, I am going to Falmouth tomorrow on business, so I called CVS, as I had heard that this chain does passport pictures. Their price was $7.95.

Merchants of the Vineyard, are you kidding me? Can you see the future? You cannot survive on just the three months of the summer tourist season. You have to be realistic on your pricing. A look in the future can simply be seen by the number of trucks of UPS and Federal Express on the streets of the Vineyard.

Today, everyone has a credit or debit card, and all of us have a computer with access to the Internet. If not, then the libraries have computers. With free delivery and no sales tax, I have ordered everything from new blinds to a large television set. Sure, if I need a $9 broom today, I will go to the local stores. However, if it is an item that I do not absolutely need today, and especially a high price item, I am going to bypass the local merchant.

Of course, one of the reasons for this unreasonable cost of items here on the Vineyard is the high cost of the Steamship Authority. They have twice as many personnel than the Coast Guard requires. When you drive your car to the ticket booth, there are three employees in the booth. One person gives you the boarding ticket, one person is reading a newspaper with his cup of coffee, and the third person is waiting for the second person to finish reading his newspaper. When you board the ship, there are at least five employees waiting to take your ticket. It is common knowledge that if you need a job working for the Steamship Authority here, get to know a local politician.

Even the local merchants are fighting among themselves. I needed a device to check if a battery still had juice in it. I went to one hardware store, and they had the device for $13. I went down the street to another hardware store, and the same exact device was priced at $8.95. Do you know how to spell “greed”?

Jim Bader

Oak Bluffs