Borrego Sun - Since 1949

"Beer 'Prices' in Borrego Springs"


Last updated 9/7/2021 at 10:45am

Transparency in pricing is a trust builder, especially in a small community. We went on a bit of a hunt, on this hot August day, for some cold beer, and we were in for some unexpected surprises.

Five places in Borrego Springs have big coolers with bottles/cans of beer for sale.

Only one (!) of them displays any prices; the Center Market (and not all of their bottles/cans have prices on them, either). The two gas stations, the liquor store, and the Pantry have big coolers of beer with zero prices on them.

“Just ask us and we’ll tell you” is a hassle for the customer when a couple of dozen brands are for sale; and most customers like to compare prices and calculate value on their own. What is the reason for our stores (which have prices on everything else) to have no prices on beer? When one doesn’t post prices, the owners can be tempted to jack up those prices, which surprises and maybe even embarrasses the customer at the register.

And if 4 out of 5 local stores, curiously, have no prices on beer (One cashier even told me “We just don’t put prices on beer in Borrego”), then it leaves them all open to suspicion of a “gentlemen’s agreement” to set prices artificially high, whether or not it is true. Why invite such suspicion and mistrust? Also, it puts the cashiers in an awkward situation, because they take the brunt of the “No prices?” complaints, not the owners. And this arrangement perhaps even tempts both owners and cashiers to overcharge, arbitrarily, at the register, since the customer has no posted price with which to compare their verbal assertion.

If you post no price, it also implies that the price is negotiable; perhaps we customers should start suggesting prices at the register and haggle it out? And I guarantee that if local owners felt pressure from us locals to post prices, the prices would come down.

We continue to hear from local merchants, “Buy local!” We’d love to do that, but if you don’t post prices, we’ll just shop elsewhere and truck it in.

Transparency in pricing is simply good professional practice. Lack of posted prices also makes us look “small time” at best and gouging at worst to tourists, which is not good for our community reputation.

For the record, we bought a 6-pack of Miller at the Center Market, because they posted their prices. Let’s up our game, Borrego Springs.

David and Wendy Housholder

– Desert Sands

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