Cronig’s should rethink discount card decision


To the Editor:

From where I stand, as a more fixed-income than not senior, Steve Bernier has made a poor business decision in withdrawing Cronig’s and Up-Island Markets (hereinafter “Cronig’s” collectively) from Our Island Club. Indeed, as far as I can tell from the published articles, the real issue seems to be personal pique at Island Club management rather than any substantive reason.

Call me ridiculous, but I still keep a Quicken checkbook register. I enter every check and every debit card transaction. In addition to recording what I actually spent at Cronig’s, I’ve also recorded the “savings” that have accrued from the Island Card. As of this writing (Sept. 23), for calendar 2017, my Island Card discount yielded “savings” of $713.08. This is not an inconsiderable amount.

“Savings” is in quotation marks because we are all aware that Cronig’s prices are high, sometimes ludicrously so. On the other hand, we also know that when some exotic ingredient is called for, Cronig’s likely stocks it. I am able to rationalize the high prices knowing that I am getting a discount, as illusory in the world at large as that may be.

Mr. Bernier seems to be offering something akin to the failed Repeal and Replace (Later) plan for Obamacare, offering vague statements about rolling out his own discount plan (sometime soon? For whom?). He complains that the Island Card is being abused. No doubt there are some people without Island Cards who have factotums buy groceries for them, yielding a discount they otherwise wouldn’t be entitled to. But so what? Larcenous people will always cheat. And their purchases at Cronig’s, even dishonestly discounted, obviously yield a profit. Ditto for the trust fund babies and second-home owners who may actually qualify for the Island Card (seriously, how large a group can this be?). Otherwise Cronig’s wouldn’t have, all these years, offered a discount to Island Card holders. Indeed, if the abuse by larcenous non-cardholders, trust fund babies, and second-home residents were a real issue, it could be addressed. But it seems more likely that these issues are red herrings standing in for whatever the real ones may be.

From my perspective, $713.08 buys a lot of gas. Enough for me to go to Edgartown as often as necessary. While the Stop & Shop is not as convenient, it’s not known for its interstellar prices.

The consequence of Mr. Bernier’s decision is a lose/lose situation. For Cronig’s it is likely to result in a loss of business; for Our Island Club it means members won’t renew. I urge Steve Bernier to reconsider this decision, to sit down with Island Club management with a view toward waging peace rather than dubious battle.

Nicholas W. Puner
West Tisbury



  1. Unfortunately for Islanders we are faced with an ever growing yuppie population that is not concerned about grocery prices. Mr. Bernier may rightly conclude that he does not need to offer discounts to anyone. So, what to do, Folks? Say again that idea about a MV Food Co-op—over.

  2. It has often surprised me that we do not have a Co-Operative Grocery Store here on the island. Through out New England there are now many of these locally owned, non-profit, Full Service grocery stores. It is not like the old, pick up food co-op, of the past. These are member owned, opened to all, grocery markets, with the absence of a for profit model. The absence of the for profit element naturally keeps cost lower to the public and members recieve additional discounts and profit sharing over time. Everyone I ever talk to that is familiar with these new Co-operative Grocery Markets are equally amazed that our community does not own one here. Maybe it’s time we try a different approach All Together. A Face Book page has started in hopes to build this conversation into actions. Check out “Martha’s Market Food Coopertive”, on Facebook.

  3. Just noticed there is a new letter to the editor, “Is Island ripe for new type of market” that talks about Food Cooperative Grocery Stores. Makes sense !

  4. So if you live here and can prove it you get a 20% discount free. The cashiers were being asked to police who was using the Island Club Card as it was intended resulting in disputes between cashiers and customers. This will take the cashiers out of that loop.

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