Monday, January 14, 2013

Collective Economics

Although Berkeley's "Gourmet Ghetto" has lost its Charcuterie and Cocolat, the venerable Cheese Board is still there, its finances bolstered by its adjacent offshoot that serves ready-to-eat pizza five days a week The Cheese Board is a "Collective", meaning that its employees all have a voice in decision-making. It seems to work. One of the hallowed features of the Cheese Board has been its policy of allowing discounts to those over 60. Starting with 5% off, the percentage increased every few years. At 100, "What you see is what you get"--in other words, it was free. We could fantasize about reaching that age, and proudly taking advantage of the system. Barbara & I enjoyed those discounts: we were 20% off in our eighties. All this is in the past, because the discount program was discontinued on October 1. I'll miss it, but I think the Collective made the right decision. Ingredient costs have risen somewhat, but the prices haven't changed. Most of the largely middle-class retired customers are doing better financially than many of the younger crowd. Even without the discount, the price is reasonable, and the variety of cheese is impressive. Some ready-wrapped cheese can be picked up and paid for, but most buyers enjoy the tradition of having a small taste of the selected cheese before buying it. We also love the vegetarian pizza, the English muffins, and the baguettes. Yes, we'll continue to patronize the Cheese Board as long as we are able to do so..

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