Munch Money expands downtown

BRETT JENKINS
STAFF WRITER

Photo by HANNAH GIBBS

Along with the first snow of the year, November is bringing new Munch Money options for students at Alma.

The frozen custard shop, Serendipity, is joining the Munch Money program. Lana Wood, the owner of Serendipity, has installed all the necessary equipment and, with any luck, the system will be transaction-ready within the next couple of weeks. This might come as a shock to many students. Wood has previously avoided joining the program because the upfront cost made it too expensive to join without taking on debt. “I don’t like debt. I try not to buy anything if I can’t pay for it outright.”

Now that Serendipity is a part of the program, Wood hopefully looks forward to an influx of customers. Having more customers is great for business, and Alma students make up a huge portion of her customer base. In fact, the business that Alma students brought to Serendipity in the first year were integral to its success.

“Alma Bucks was a godsend. After my first year, I was in tears. It saved me,” said Wood. However, she wants to be clear that it’s not just about the money to her. “I always take care of the students first, and they know that,” said Wood.

She is excited to be a part of the Munch Money program and she hopes that it can be good for students as well.

Fortunately, students are just as excited as she is. Many of them already wished they could spend their Munch Money at Serendipity.

“That’s great news!” said Aristotle Koronias (22). “I thought it was firmly off the table. I might have to start saving my money.”

Additionally, Starting Monday, Nov. 11, Highland Blush is starting a promotion tentatively called ‘No Munch Money Mondays.’ That means that students won’t be charged an additional fee when using Munch Money on Mondays.

Damien Sanderson, the owner and founder of Highland Blush, hopes that this will bring more students into the shop on a day that is usually slower and create a livelier environment. This promotion cuts into his sales margins, but he thinks it’s worth the cost as long as the students are interested. “If they can get more for their Munch Money, we want to offer that to them,” said Sanderson.

Sanderson’s promotion brings to light an interesting dilemma. While Munch Money is good for business, it comes with costs. On top of the initial investment of setting up the necessary equipment, each Munch Money transaction costs the business a fee. They usually have some sort of ‘Munch Money Charge’ to help cover that cost. Any Alma student who has spent Munch Money downtown is familiar with that concept, but businesses approach the issue differently.

In the spirit of fairness, Highland Blush and others choose to charge a percentage fee on all Munch Money transactions. That way, they’re always charging enough to cover costs—no more and no less. “I think it’s unfair to charge something to cover your costs if you’re making a profit because your charge is greater than your costs,” said Sanderson. However, this option can be a bit complicated and lead to slower transactions.

Other businesses choose to charge a flat fee which leads to simpler, and potentially quicker transactions, but the flat fee isn’t perfect either. For smaller transactions, it can lead to students overpaying relative to the transaction fee that the business pays, but on the other hand, large transactions end up with the business eating most of the cost. In the end, the differences are small, and some business owners, like Wood, have decided that the convenience is worth the cost.

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