By Ian Oberg
Mason Times Staff Writer
Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to remove or modify Michigan’s item-pricing law has Mason’s small-business owners questioning an unintended effect of the proposal.
“In today’s world of scanners, bar codes and automated inventory systems, we are simply placing an undue burden on retailers and consumers,” Snyder said at his first State of the State address. “It’s bad for business, it’s bad for consumers.”
“Let’s embrace technology that saves consumers time and money while still protecting them,” continued Snyder.
Snyder wants to drop the state requirement to have a price sticker on almost all items on store shelves, but this proposal could harm smaller locally owned businesses.
“To have bar codes, you have to have a special computer, which is very expensive, and we do not have,” said Donnis Kerr, of Kerr Hardware. “Therefore, we have item pricing.”
Kerr Hardware has been in business since 1965 and has used item pricing since then, which was 11 years before Michigan passed the item pricing law in 1976.
“It’s the expense of the new cash register that reads bar codes, which is not cheap,” Kerr said.
New technology is intended to save businesses and consumers money, but the cost of purchasing the technology and updating the systems could be an obstacle for smaller businesses.
“This will benefit more larger companies, but smaller companies will get left in the dust,” Kerr said.
Kerr is not the only small business owner that feels this way. Teresa Wren, of The Kean’s Store Co., shares Kerr’s feelings.
“We do everything the old-fashioned way here,” Wren said. “Our registers aren’t computerized, we have cash registers, and we look at the tape every day.”
“It will be difficult for a lot of the little Mom and Pop stores that don’t have the equipment, and can’t afford to buy the equipment to do that,” said Wren. I’ve always stayed away from POS (Point OF Sale) systems because they’re so expensive.”
Whether this proposal will negatively affect small businesses is not certain, but the cost of embracing this new technology could favor larger companies with larger budgets.