High costs of goods and services harm Vineyard living


To the Editor:

What happened to Black Friday on the Vineyard? Nothing. If you make inquiry of our local merchants, they will advise you that there was no added revenue forthcoming from this last weekend as the beginning of the holidays. What happened to the thought of increased sales?

Well, first of all, the local merchants made no attempt to have any substantial price specials, in comparison to all kinds of sales from the large merchants on the mainland. No, 10 percent off is not going to draw much of a response in today’s market. Our merchants will complain this kind of sales promotion is hard to have, due to the increased cost of getting their merchandise here on the Island.

Along with the increasing commercial rents, imposed by greedy landlords, transportation costs are high. I went off-Island for a Thanksgiving family dinner. As I drove up to the booth where they check your ferry reservations, the small booth held three Steamship Authority employees. The first one noted my name and then relayed it to his fellow employee two feet away, standing over the computer, to check my reservation. Overseeing all of this was a third employee, who was sitting down reading his newspaper with a cup of coffee and a donut. And this took place at 5:40 am on Wednesday morning, before any rush to leave the Island.

As I approached the ferry itself, there were three employees taking turns to take my ticket, and then there were eight employees directing me in parking my car on the ferry.

Duh. Is there any doubt why the cost of the ferry increases every year, as the already bloated number of Steamship employees ever-increases? Need a job? The solution is to contact your local elected official, and he will get you a job with the Steamship Authority. Yearly ridership on the ferry keeps dropping, and the Steamship Authority keeps increasing their employment figures, along with regularly scheduled yearly wage increases for their employees.

Look around any weekday, and you will see loads of trucks from UPS and Federal Express. Whether I need clothing, appliances, or just toys for the children, the internet furnishes merchants with low prices and free shipping.

I needed some snow tires for my car, and a local merchant quoted me a price of a little over $760, plus the cost of installation. While I was off-Island, I went to Town Fair Tires and had a full set of name-brand snow tires installed for just $500.

In the recent elections, some of the new people trying to win their races promised lower taxes and cutting the budget, but our local people voted for the same old elected officials that gave us increased taxes, along with a substantial hike in the sales tax. Oak Bluffs needed more income, and so they hiked the hotel tax rather than make further cuts in their budget. A local hotel merchant was quoted as saying that he did not think that the tourists would even notice the increase.

However, this last summer, I saw day‑trippers bringing bagged lunches to cut down on the expense of spending the day here. High costs are important, and they hurt our economy and prevent its growth.

Costs here on the Vineyard are important, and there will be no recovery until we search out the reasons for our higher costs and stop them. I would love to support our local merchants with my business, but first we all have to support those practices that will lower the cost of goods and services here on the Vineyard.

Frank E. Johnson

Oak Bluffs