Idea #2: An ALS-, business- and consumer-friendly way to finally pitch the penny

March 16th, 2012 by Al Lewis (alewis)

Lots has been written about the recent report that pennies now cost 2.4 cents apiece to make.   The “solution” to this problem ?  The government is exploring the use of cheaper metals.   Washington dare not phase them out  altogether because to do so would invite protests that retailers would round up to the nearest nickel, which might cost the average person at least a couple of dollars a year!  Plus, without pennies lying around on the ground, what would toddlers eat?

However, this whole penny-anti “debate” misses the bigger point, which is that many if not most retail businesses feel that it costs more than a penny to handle a penny.    In other words, given the idea and the chance to do so, most businesses would be happy to round cash purchases down to the nearest nickel if they were not required to handle pennies.   The efficiencies gained by not having to deal with pennies would more than compensate for the loss of two  or three cents on a $20 cash transaction.

Obviously consumers would be better off getting a nickel in change than a few pennies that usually just get stored, thrown out,  lost or  littered, which is why they need to keep making billions more every year.    And retailers that didn’t want to go along, wouldn’t have to.  They could keep making small change and keep getting frequented by consumers who prefer receiving 1-4 cents to receiving a nickel in change.

This isn’t just my wacky idea any more.  It’s been embraced by economists on the right and the left .

Most importantly, actual businesses have done this on their own.  Concord Teacakes ran a very well-publicized temporary promotion in 2009 described in the Boston Globe at .    That was three years ago and customers are still asking about it.

The question is, what happens to those pennies that no one wants?   The answer is very easy.  Stores should put out some charity jars and collect the pennies for ALS.    Millions could be raised simply by collecting the pennies.

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9 Responses to “Idea #2: An ALS-, business- and consumer-friendly way to finally pitch the penny”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Pitch the penny for ALS-its PERFECT-”MILLIONS COULD BE RAISED SIMPLY BY COLLECTING THE PENNIES” This would make Janet happy-and EVERYONE HAS TO KNOWABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING-everyone at Concord Teacakes simply hates PENNIES-there is not a shift that goes by that I work-that Pennies is not MENTIONED-BECAUSE we ALWAYS ROUND DOWN-AND everyone remembers what happenend there,three years ago-Thankyou so much-for EVERYTHING-and Janet-forever loved,forever missed,but never forgotten….Rest in Peace,happiness and love.

  2. Mike Says:

    I remember this promotion well — you couldn’t live in Concord and not know about it — and every time I go in there now, i wanna know why this promotion ended. That jar and that funny sign with Lincoln saying “With charity for all please throw me in the jar.” What happened to it and let’s do it again

  3. soxfan Says:

    It’s about time this one came back and with an ALS twist. This is just an obvious idea and the fact that neither the Democrats have implemented it or the Republicans have proposed it shows that no candidate has ever had to stand in line at a store to get handed a bunch of worthless pennies in change.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Mike-That VERY,VERY,VERY COOL SIGN is there at Concord Teacakes. It is in the back kitchen stored with all of the stuff on the managers desk-THAT SIGN IS THE WAY COOLEST OF ALL-I am not really sure why it was even taken down as WE ALWAYS ROUND DOWN AT CONCORD TEACAKES…AND I ACTUALLY SAY NO-TO-PENNIES…ALWAYS! JUST TWO DAYS AGO-Maryann-one of my managers lets someone in after closing time as we ALWAYS DO THAT-SHE ROUNDED DOWN…THE CASH TRANSACTION AND TOLD THEM THIS…”We HATE PENNIES” Maybe it’s the economy? I amnot sure….please come visit! Judy Fersch the owner-is having the store painted..ITS BEAUTIFUL! and Soxfan,maybe PENNIES ARE NOT WORTHLESS…..ESPECIALLY FOR ALS….AND JANET…FOR YOU….FOREVER LOVED,FOREVER MISSED…BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN…REST IN PEACE,HAPPINESS…AND LOVE….

  5. Ralph Says:

    Funny thing is, small stores have the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny bowl but big stores insist on counting out 99 cents of change instead of just giving you a dollar so that their cash receipts tie at the end of the day.

    And then if you don’t want 99 cents you have to say, wait, i think I have a penny and fish around in your pocket, which often takes even longer. These things have to go and what a great way to phase them out!

  6. littauergal Says:

    This was the best idea ever posted on this site and with the higher costs of pennies today and the ALS charity jar, it’s even better now.


    Canada just announced it was going to phase them out. We should do the same, and your idea is the only way to do it without creating a big fuss. I was there when you did the pennies protest in Concord and I was disappointed you let it end. It should have been PERMANENT

  8. paula Says:

    I agree,IT SHOULD BE PERMANENT-I hate pennies too- at Concord Teacakes. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I hear the three managers say this -WE HATE PENNIES-AND we have been rounding down for years with cash transactions!

  9. MikeQ Says:

    Did you see that your Concord penny protest made it into Time Magazine? I was also right there when it happened. That’s how I found out about your site. One of the coolest things to happen in Concord since the old days.

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