As If Newspapers Don’t Have Enough Problems…

Yesterday I went to the Merritt Country Store — next to Coffee An’ and Crossroads Hardware — to buy my Westport News.

(Yes, I’ve written for them since Ben Franklin set type. And I still have to pay for it.)

I plunked down my 55 cents. An odd price, yeah, but that’s what it costs.

“65 cents,” said the guy behind the counter.

“No. It’s 55 cents,” I told him. I should know — it’s my paper.

“65,” he repeated. “That’s what my boss says. I just work here.”

“What about other papers?” I asked. “Do you charge more for them than you’re supposed to, too?”

“Yes,” he said. “Except the New York Times.

He paused. “I just work here,” he repeated.

I know, I know. It’s not the biggest markup I’ve ever seen.

But it’s definitely the weirdest.

Merritt Country Store

22 responses to “As If Newspapers Don’t Have Enough Problems…

  1. John McCarthy

    Still $0.50 at the machines in front of Oscars and at the train station.

  2. Subscribe. You’ll save on the gas

  3. This store, with its generous hours and basic provisions, is a good amenity
    for the neighborhood. However, since the change in ownership, the prices
    have increased significantly which means less business for them from
    people like us. I hope the owner will re-think his pricing policy which will probably result in more traffic.

    • No more “generous” hours either. It used to be open for 24 hours, I think, or at least at night, but no longer…

  4. Come to Christie’s Dan, we’re still at $.55.

    I suspect the new owner has experienced that the majority of people who buy papers come in only for the paper. Since the profit is a nickle (fifty cents on the Sunday Times), I guess it’s a profit per customer thing. I agree…weird.

    Come on in Dan, I’ll save ya one!

  5. Store owners LOSE money on newspapers.
    Store owners make about 2 cents on any given newspaper but they actually lose money. Why you ask???

    1) They have to pay their supplier up front for them at the value of the newspaper. And, the store owner requests how many of each newspaper they want to receive, but the newspaper co always sends more then they need – so they are paying for more upfront.
    2) IF they don’t sell of them, the store owner has to cut the top of the newspaper off (time suck)and save it to return it. The store owner has to throw the rest of the newspaper away in their garbage container (more time) and of course pay for their garbage to be removed. The store owner has to keep the the top of the newspaper paper(s) that they cut and wait for a newspaper represenative to show up and collect and count them So you have cut them, throw away excess, store them, wait for someone to show up spend 10-12 minutes to talk to them so they can give you your credit slip
    3) Then, the store owner has to wait 1-2 weeks to receive credit on the newspapers they did not sell
    Yahhh….. sounds like a loss to me

  6. Westport 4 Life

    The gas station (Mobil?) between Swanky Frank’s and Barnes & Noble charges 75 cents for the Westport News!!!! I couldn’t believe it when I heard him say that…

  7. Joanne Avery

    All I could think of reading this post was that “hey~the Merritt Superette is now The Merritt Country Store!”– purloining the appeal of what was Christie’s Country Store (imagine they’ve changed their moniker as well in years since?) The Merritt was the closest thing Westport had to a bodega for years and I used to dream of being allowed to go in and buy some penny fireballs. Think the ten cent increase is meritted. Worked in a 24 hour store part time during college and the newspapers took a lot of man hours to accomodate for what they were worth to the store income.

    • Yep the Merritt Superette! Used to ride our bikes there and get those candy necklaces on an elastic string, wax lips, jaw breakers, bazooka bubble gum with the comics inside, fireballs, giant yo yo’s — it was a great stop after the beach too. Sunday morning donut run too. The Donut Shoppe and Merritt Superette are the Wonder Years of Westport and they were blissful. Better than any TV show.

  8. The Dude Abides

    Steal a copy when your editor is not looking. The Merritt Superette has been a cornerstone for every Westporter, living north of downtown, since the 1950’s. I used to harvest on “Chicklets on my walk (YES WE DID WALK) home from the YMCA in the Wonder Years. I still stop there for my weekly lottery purchase (tonight is 32 million) and always hear “GOOD LUCK” from the friendly folks who work there. Cheap shot, Professor.

    • Donny Kerabatsos

      He must have found his rug, and got it cleaned. It held the place together.

      • Chancey Williams

        It has always been cluttered and dusty. But you could always find the milk the wife wanted or the clue that the kid needed for school the next day. Actually, the new owner has cleaned it up a bit.

    • Tom Allen '66

      Not just the folks who live north of downtown, Dude. In high school I used to stop at the Superette late at night for supplies on my way home to Saugatuck after dates in Weston.

      • The Dude Abides

        I don’t believe they sold condoms there, TA, but then again, it would have been too late by then anyhow?

  9. Dan,

    I love the Merritt Country Store. Each Sunday from April through October I stop and buy 2 bags of ice (to chill the Gatorade) to transport to the North Softball Field behind Town Hall, where I continue to play softball with a group of guys who for the past 30+ years have called ourselves Boys of Summer Softball (BOSS). It includes such former Staples standout athletes as Greg Pinyan (who pitched while Greg Katz caught, Jonas Katz and Tristan Toomey). And they still permit this alta kokka (sp?) to play. At any rate, one of the guys at the cash register charges me $2.00 per bag — no sales tax. The other guy insists on charging me sales tax. I don’t know whether I am proud or abashed that one time I took my ice, walked out, and refused to pay the sales tax. Eventually they stopped charging me the tax. Who knows what this spring will bring?


  10. If you think Merritt is overpriced, try BP on the Post Road

  11. Did you see Dusty and Honey?

  12. Douglass Davidoff

    Yes, I also remember the Merritt Superette. With the earlier donut shop next door. My dad always stopped there. It’s one of my earliest memories, dating from our American Motors Nash Rambler. I was maybe 3 or 4 years old in 1960 or 1961.
    * * *
    But as for newspapers being suddenly the object of blatant price gouging, Dan, the same thing happened to me two weeks ago in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and I was caught really short by it.

    I bought a Boston Globe at a locally owned place like the the Merritt Superette to read in the — okay, okay I admit it! — to read in the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street. Just wanted a coffee, a donut, and a real dead-tree newspaper. I was about two blocks outside the Route 128 road ringing Boston. I was tired of the snow. I wanted to relax after a doctor visit.

    The newsstand charged me the “out-of-town” price on the Globe, $2. The “in-town” price is $1.25. I was flabbergasted. The guy at the counter said, “That’s what they tell me to charge.”

    It says right here that the out-of-town price is for “outside Metro Boston.” I guess everyone in Wellesley will be surprised to learn they no longer live in Metro Boston. I guess they live in Metro Worcester now.

    And the folks in Westport no longer live “in-town” either, I guess. No one ever accused former Westport News Publisher Dexter Brooks of being anything other than a community newspaper publisher with an intense business drive. But I think this behavior would have driven him nuts.

    • Douglass Davidoff

      I meant to add that the next step will be pumping gas marked at $4/gallon and then being asked to pay $4.25/gallon if paying with a debit or credit card. Surely, nothing like that will ever happen! Hurummph.

  13. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    U wanted the internet and this is what U get 4 it.