Volume I: Sweet or Unsweetened?
What would you like to drink?
On the third day of our summer trip from Loganville, GA to Seabeck, WA, we toured the quaint pre-revolutionary town of Summerville, SC. Summerville was established as a summer refuge from the sweltering heat, mosquitoes, and swamp fever thriving in the low lands of Charleston. After the tour, and on our way to the Magnolia Plantation, we stopped for lunch at Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinder n a typical, modern strip mall.
They gave us cups for our drinks. I took a close look at the Coca-Cola dispenser. I’ve used these miracle multi-flavor machines at the AMC Classic 12 movie theater in Snellville, GA. This was Donna Lee’s first experience using one, “It’s amazing! I can’t believe all the choices!”
As we enjoyed lunch, our conversation turned to the myriad of drink options we could choose from. I’ve seen the canisters in the back of pop-dispensers and imagined that it must take dozens of canisters to make this miraculous machine work.
As we were leaving, the owner of Bellacimo’s was standing by the machine. I asked, “How does this work? Do you have big canisters in the back for each flavor?” He said, “No, it’s not that complicated.” He opened the lower portion of the machine. There were 30 little syrup flavor containers, each of the containers (about the size of a pack of cigarettes) cost $50.00. He leases the machine for $400 a month. “I don’t make anything on drinks. The machine is an inducement for customers.” Don’t we love being catered to, love being able to create the drinks of our choice on-the-spot!
I spent my summers as a boy during the 1950s in Poplar Bluff, MO with my cousin Denny Mussell. On those hot, humid July days, after going to the community pool, playing tennis, or riding our bikes all over town, we would walk down to the neighborhood store to get a cool pop. We had five choices: New Grape, Orange Crush, Dad’s Root Beer, Cream Soda, and Lemon Lime; unless one or more were sold out. I had never experienced anything like it! We could reach into the cooler, pick out the drink of our choice, the store owner would make a note on my uncle’s account, and we walked out happy. No credit cards, no cash.
My how things have changed since that unfinished, wood-floored store, to the miracle of the mall. From five choices of soda to the infinite choices we have today.
And, why are all these choices available? All these options, all these possibilities exist because of the miracle of the free market; the desire of the entrepreneur to “wow” the customer. As long as our supplier is an entrepreneur, with the desire for profit, competing freely with other entrepreneurs, you and I can be sure of an expanding supply of more for less.
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