On *not* raising prices: Customer loyalty can go both ways


Signs explaining how management has no choice but to pass along their increasing costs to the end consumer are becoming as familiar a point-of-sale display as an Am-ex tent card. Everything from a carton of eggs at the supermarket to the paper cup for my coffee comes with a side order of doom these days.

So it was refreshing, to say the least, to receive this in an e-letter from a Little Rock, Arkansas business yesterday:


Boulevards answer to the unbelievably higher prices for flour, (from $10 a bag to $29 a bag), butter, eggs, and all other commodities is to be more efficient, waste less, to work harder, and to build volume through great service and exceptional quality products, (we are working tirelessly to improve service daily)!

You will NOT see a price increase for the foreseeable future! Please continue to support us, every customer is SO appreciated and loved!!!

-Scott McGehee, Boulevard Bread Co.

I called up Scott, who owns and operates the coffee/gourmet food shop, beloved by local hoity-toities and hipsters alike, to ask him about this radical departure from the herd. He told me that he is determined to find reasonable alternatives to making his customers carry the burden of his increased costs. How novel. Most other businesses seem to turn to the consumer's wallet as a line of first defense, not the last resort.

Last week, Walletpopper Zac Bissonette wrote about the dividends of honest customer service. Is goodwill toward an establishment money in the bank? If so, strategies like Boulevard's might yield better returns in the long run than the usual "we're suffering, so should you" line.

Have you heard of any businesses in your community taking a similar approach?

Kyran Pittman blogs about life at Notes to Self. Her essays have been featured three times in Good Housekeeping magazine's "Good Reads" section.