Monday, August 27, 2018

Silver Spurs to Morgenstern's

The Silver Spurs coffee shop had been around since 1979. The last survivor shuttered on LaGuardia this past March. At the time, Kiki the manager told me their replacement would be an ice-cream place. “Expensive," she said.

Recently, Morgenstern's ice-cream shop papered the windows, announcing their arrival in the spot.

Important to note--they also announce they are "credit card only." No cash allowed. When you're forced to put a $4.50 ice-cream cone on credit, you know the dystopian future has already arrived.

They're not alone. Van Leeuwen ice cream is also no cash accepted. SweetGreen is another one (and they took the space of a great coffee shop on University Place). It's a growing, disturbing trend.

Cashless retail is discriminatory and exclusive. The Guardian recently reported that local government in Washington, DC, is trying to put a stop to it with The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018.

They wrote: "A report last year by the Washington City Paper found that 27% of people in the US would have trouble using only a credit card to purchase products, and that the percentage in Washington DC is even higher. 'I’m concerned with more and more restaurants, businesses and shops going cashless because you’re systematically excluding a group of people who are already disadvantaged and disenfranchised,' Linnea Lassiter, an analyst at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, told the paper. 'And now they can’t have access to this restaurant?'"

One good thing about all those vanishing coffee shops like Silver Spurs? They took our cash.


Michael Penn Photography said...

I never thought that I would live in a world where cash wasn't accepted at a business. Death to iZombies !

Unknown said...

You know what they say? "when they outlaw cash....only outlaws will have cash"
So sad that the greedy need to track our spending to figure out how to take our last dollar. Be late on that payment or overdraft your account and that cone will cost you another $35.

John K said...

This is an important post. "No Cash" establishments effectively bar the homeless and any poor people who don't have access even to debit cards. Such policies empower banks and credit card companies, and all who have access to credit and debit cards, which, as you say, is not everyone. The "No Cast" policy is discriminatory but of course despite the alleged liberalness of New York's current governor, mayor and city council, there's no push to set rules that ensure access to all who can pay for goods and services.

Reader said...

It isn't that hard to obtain a refillable debit card. For most people, the problem is establishments that only take cash.

Pat said...

Yes you can get a refillable debit card, but isn't there a fee attached to that? The old saying, "the poor pay more."

Reader said...

I'm not saying this is a great development, but we have long been on the way to a cashless society and poor people have participated.

Poor people whose families live abroad for years have bought cards with phone credits in order to call home. Poor people buy MTA cards. In its reform discussions, the MTA claims that in time it will be able to transmit electronic discounts to cardholders based on usage and income.

It's increasingly popular to promote cards and electronic payment methods. Starbucks recently was pushing a new credit card that offered loyalty points. But for people who either didn't want or couldn't qualify for a credit card, there's a debit card that can be bought. Either can be used anywhere.

For me, the primary issue is privacy. But I'm told privacy is dead.

Caleo said...

Trying to frame the issue as being discriminatory against the homeless isn't the right angle to take. The push towards cashless will hurt all of us as every single purchase you make will be tracked and recorded. You will literally have no privacy of any kind. Banks and corporations will know everything about you. Unfortunately, there isn't that much left to know now that nearly everyone has adopted the Iphone, which tracks your every move and records every word you speak and keystroke you make, and internet purchasing.
Most moderns, proud progressives leading the pack, are more than happy to dump what little privacy they have in favor of deeper connectedness to the hive. No more icky dollars and coins to carry around.
What should scare most of us is that no one cares about losing what little shred of privacy they have left.
The all seeing eye will know your every move and purchase, and respond accordingly.
Apparently, cashless makes most people feel warm and happy.

bgfa said...

There is actually a good reason not to accept cash. When a majority of transactions happen with credit or debit, the smaller number of cash sales create a security problem for small businesses. In the old days, when most if not all sales were cash, businesses had to figure out a secure way to deposit it, either by hiring an armored car, or taking a chance and carrying the cash to the bank. Abe Lebewohl of the Second Avenue Deli was murdered carrying his cash to the bank. Businesses were also subject to premises robberies for their cash. But there was not much of an alternative. If most transactions are not cash, why take those risks?

To me the real problem is that these newer businesses are not owner operated. An owner would figure out a good way to deal with the cash issue, or might prefer it as a nice side income out of the eyes of the tax man. But the low wage employee who serves the customer is not the owner. The corporations who can afford the higher rents by pooling the profits from multiple locations don't want their employees dealing with these issues.

The continuing loss of small, owner operated businesses is a much bigger issue for me.

Unknown said...

Ugh, carrying cards around is such a hassle! These places need to get with the times and get some retina scanning devices that are tied to my bank account. I put my eye up to the lens, (lazer noise), and I'm out of there with my $4.50 ice cream and w/o the severe personal anguish of having to carry a card around. Ughhhhh.

cmarrtyy said...

Why would anyone in their right mind pay a small business with plastic money. Major American banks and retail stores can't protect against hacking how could a small company protect your information? It can't. And never will. It's just chalked up as cost of business. My account at the New York Times wa hacked. Some of my posts were hacked. Russian words were inserted. When I informed the Times they ignored me. I dropped my account with the Times... and the card I paid them with.

Manqueman said...

I was just thinking last night: While Manhattan's still a great place to visit, just about the only reason to live there is for a short commute. Except for the 1%, hardly any of it's livable anymore.

Frosty said...

There are plenty of reasons to worry about the cashless takeover. For example, fees incurred by the store for each transaction, interest charged to the credit card user (interest on top of a 4.50 ice cream cone?). But above all, the loss of privacy - cashless means every transaction is tracked, and now probably monetized by Google.

zuzuzpetals said...

They've been beat to the retail punch by a new VanLeeuwen Ice cream store just two blocks away on Houston. Also cashless.

Marginally better for neighborhood diversity than another CVS. I guess.

Van Leeuwen's website suggests dropping by when "exhausted after shopping". Remember when Soho was not only a consumer destination but a place for artist lofts and musicians doing late night jams?

grumpy_otter said...

"This note is legal tender for all debts public and private."

I did that from memory, but isn't that what it says? I don't even know how this could be legal.

Chuck said...

Yep, yep, Grumpy_Otter. That is exactly what it says verbatim. It don't get no plainer than that!

I too wondered how this could be legal until I googled it and discovered that Massachusetts is the only state in the Union that prohibits the refusing of cash at retail establishments.

I guess we now live in a society in which big box retail stores and chain operations get to not only interpret Federal Law, but also make their own laws. *sigh*