Saturday, November 12, 2011

$23,000 Poorer

I stopped in Amish Healthy Foods this week to use a Groupon that was expiring soon. It is a small grocery with organic meat and dairy and some vegetables and non-perishable items. As I was getting together my items at the register, I asked the woman how the Groupon was going. She turned out to be the owner. She didn't have many positive things to say about it.

She said she had lost $23,000.

Everything else she said, I had heard before. For each $30 coupon that Groupon cutomers purchased for $15, she only got $7.50. According to the deal on Groupon, 960 people bought it, but she could count on one hand the number of customers who came back. People were stingy. If their total was $32, they wanted to swap out an item to bring the total down to $30. This is familiar.

But that a business owner lost $23,000 because she partnered with Groupon? That leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. I have never felt so guilty to use a Groupon as I did this time. As I was saving $15, she was losing way more.

She told me not to worry about it, that it wasn't my fault. She didn't blame the customers. She understood how the deal worked. She was just glad it was ending soon. The Groupon was expiring in 2 weeks, and she could go back to life as normal.

My total was $40, and she asked me if I wanted to put something back so I wouldn't have to spend more than the total of the Groupon. I insisted that I wanted to buy all these things, which included fresh sausage, wine cheddar cheese, steaks, and bacon. I told her that I wanted to support her business and that I would come back, because I was trying to spend more money on good quality meat. I could tell she didn't believe me, that it didn't matter how good my intentions were. She did not expect to see me ever again.

I will be back. I really think I will. I don't buy meat at the grocery store for all those do-gooder reasons, and I rarely shop at Whole Foods because it's too far, and I end up putting too much in my shopping cart there, then end up having buyer's remorse. This place is smaller, with just the basics, and it's just a few minutes out of my way on the way home from work.

I will be one of the few who returns to give her my full-price business not just to prove her wrong, but because I want to shop there. So she's got one customer on which the Groupon worked its magic, because I would have never known this place existed if it weren't for the Groupon. But I'm just one customer who doesn't even have a family to feed. There's nothing I can personally do to make up the $23,000 she lost.

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