Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Debit or Credit?
by James Glaser
December 21, 2007

Now that I have this gallery open, I have to ask people if they want to use a debit or credit card. I think cash is almost a thing of the past down here in the South.

Back in the town I came from in Northern Minnesota, the only business that took a credit card was the gas station. There is a sign at the hardware store that says, "No Credit Cards." They will however take a check from almost anyone with proper ID. A few years ago the local bank put in a ATM machine, but on a weekend or after hours, if you didn't have a credit card to get cash with, and you left your billfold at home, almost every store in town would just have you sign the receipt, and you could come back in a day or two and pay it up.

I have had several days at the new gallery that I didn't take in any cash money at all. What is real strange is to have a good day, but my deposit is only thirty eight dollars and ninety cents. Everything else went in on a card. In theory that sounds good, it even sounds easier, but with every sale there is a charge taken off the top for the company that provides the machine that is tied into the bank. On top of that you have to pay a monthly fee to use the machine, and you need an extra phone line.

I know it is an American tradition to skim some money off the top of any business, but how do you skim when everything is recorded? I feel bad when a college kid buys with their credit card, because that item is probably going to cost them a bundle with interest charges.

I have only been open this month, and I am trying to figure out how much I need to take in every day to break even. There are some variables. If I sell someone else's work, my profit is a fixed number, depending what I paid for it, but if I sell something I made, I make a lot more.

Of course with just starting out, I don't get paid anything, so if I do show a profit, that is a profit with no labor costs. That makes it a lot easier to stay in the black, but I can't do that forever. The plan with opening the gallery was to make some money some day.

This whole business endeavor is one big learning experience. Right now it is both interesting and kind of fun. It will be more interesting to see what I think of it a year from now.

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