Tuesday, February 25, 2020

"Dollars to Donuts" just won't cut it anymore.....

As readers know, Side's time on this orb is considerable; enough to qualify us as a "senior" by just about any measure.

So many of you who showed up after us may not be familiar with the expression "I'll bet you dollars to donuts that blah blah blah, etc."  But we sure are.

We're guessing it derived from times long ago when a dollar would buy 10 or more donuts; in an era when they cost ten cents each or less.  Maybe much less.  So putting up a dollar against a donut was an expression that meant the challenger was so sure of his belief that he would offer long odds to draw in "a mark."

You better sit down before you read the rest of this.  You may be shocked, shocked we say, to learn that those days are long gone.

To give some context, we first became a customer of Frostys in Brunswick about 20 years or so ago.  Best we can remember, donuts were 60 cents then, and a dozen was $5, or perhaps even less -- say $4.50.

Fast forward to our latest experiences. We assume many of you are aware of Tony's Donuts on outer Congress St in Portland.

We have no idea how long they have been in business, but it surely has been for a long time; the place gives off all the vibes of an established neighborhood favorite.  Their donuts are good, but of a wholly different style and mix than what Frostys in Brunswick offers.

We tend to stop by Tony's twice a year when we have an appointment in the nearby area.  Before heading home, we stop by for coffee and a donut or two.  We don't keep a log of the prices, but in December, we ordered a donut and a small (very small!!) coffee, and were shocked when the cost was four dollars and change.  Last we remembered, we thought the price was about $1.25 for a donut, so we were kind of shocked.  In our mind, they always seemed less than what Frostys charged.

As we noshed away, we saw the prices listed way up high above the counter.  $2 per donut, and $20 per dozen!  Plus tax, of 7.5%, we suppose.  So a dozen will cost you near $22!  That is not an inconsiderable sum, and we're guessing that will begin to cut into their regular business in quantity of donuts sold; but who knows.

When we arrived home, we told Mrs. Side, and she was verklempt over it.  Life moved on.

As for Frostys, we rarely stop in for a single donut and coffee anymore.  In recent years, we've generally bought a dozen for an upcoming visit with grandchildren, etc.  And for a long time, we'd buy a half dozen to give to the crew at Big Top Deli as we were on our way to lunch, usually for $5.  That came to an end when a half dozen moved up to $7 or $8.

Frostys variety has always been the best as we see it; cake style, raised style, filled style, and those world famous, irresistible twists.  There nothing else like them on the market in our view.  Unfortunately everything changes over time, especially prices, and those things that are discretionary treats are more subject to budgetary second thoughts, even though one can easily afford them.  At some point, an item price just goes from reasonable to unreasonable.  When that happens, it's easy to feel like you're being taken advantage of.

Our grand-kids are mostly grown and we don't see them much anymore.  So the last remaining business we've had with Frosty's is taking several dozen to a monthly meeting in Augusta that we attend.  We've been doing that for 5 or 6 years, and we began with 4 dozen, which used to cost under $45 with tax.  Prices gradually increased, as one might expect, and in January, 3 dozen cost right around $45 with tax.  They were $13.50 a dozen each, plus tax.

So imagine our surprise when we picked up our order for the February meeting and discovered the price had risen to $16.50 per dozen, plus tax.  That's a 22% price increase in one swell foop!  And individual donuts are now $1.80, or call it $2 with tax.

We grew up loving our bakery items of nearly any sort; we have a habit of having a cup of coffee and some sort of baked goods instead of lunch on most weekdays.  Many who know us would even say it shows.  We've been totally partial to Frostys over the years, bragging on Brunswick's originals any chance we got.  But we think the price has now crossed the line between a quick bite and a luxury.  Especially if you have a tyke who might eat half and them leave the rest on the tray.

But then we can't believe smokers regularly pay $7 or so for a pack of cigs.

Oh, and one final note.  We were in Hannafords the other day, and decided to see what the Frostys they sell were going for.  Would you believe 2 for $3.00?  How's that!  they're cheaper after a middleman takes their cut than they are at the home shop that does the baking!

Inevitably, such changes make you ponder on what the owner thinking is, because there is clearly a pricing curve that determines quantity sold vis-a-vis net profit.  If you double the profit per item by raising prices, but quantity sold goes down by one third, earnings go up but work and staff required goes down.  Real trade-offs are involved.

The current owners rescued the business from the original owners who were simply running out of gas, and they recharged and renovated the whole operation, and very successfully.  At one point they had four "stores," an off-site central baking location, and a number of vans for making deliveries to those stores and resellers like Bow St. Market and Hannafords.

We have no doubt they may have analyzed several years of expanding ownership and volume, along with the work entailed on their part, and re-evaluated their strategy for carrying on the business.  Perhaps even with an eye towards cashing out not too far downstream, and maximizing the attractiveness to new ownership prospects.

That's clearly their business, and they have the right to deal with those variables anyway they see fit for their own desires.

And we clearly have the right to deal with the variables anyway we see fit as well.  Even if it means that our years as Frostys fanatics are coming to an end.

If our wallets won't benefit, our waistlines likely will.

No comments:

Post a Comment