Vt. business: The penny makes no 'cents' - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. business: The penny makes no 'cents'

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At Power Play Sports in downtown Morrisville, you'll find everything from bikes to skis, and, in true Vermont fashion: maple syrup.

What you won't find, anywhere, is a penny. Store owner Caleb Magoon decided to get rid of them.

"It makes a certain amount of sense when you consider the economics of the penny," Magoon said.

The copper and zinc coin is old and outdated, he said.

"They have become useless really. Not that a single cent is useless, but just the idea of the hard currency of the penny is now unnecessary," Magoon said.

It was something he'd been considering it for a while, since taking ownership of the sports shop last October.

"I had heard about other businesses, other retail establishments, eliminating the penny from their business," he said.

Magoon just had to convince his bookkeeper.

"My bookkeeper is also my mom," he said, "she's a practical individual, so it didn't take much convincing."

The store now rounds all cash payments down to the nearest nickel, always in the customers favor. Caleb admits it's a system that loses some money.

"I discovered the most I could lose on a single transaction was 4 cents, which means on the average transaction I'm going to lose 2 cents," Magoon said, "When you consider a thousand transactions only cost me $20, that's a small price to pay to make my life a little bit easier."

He says the penny ban is not just pragmatic; it's a protest. The penny actually costs more than it's worth to make; the U.S. Treasury spends 2.41 cents to mint every 1 cent piece.

At Martin's Coins in South Burlington, John Meyers said pennies are still big business: the collectible ones can be worth anywhere from three cents for a common "wheat" penny to a lot more for a rare 1909 version that "could be worth anywhere from several hundred dollars to thousands."

But for your average run-of-the-mint penny, it's worth face value, which Meyers says isn't much because of inflation. He expects the coin will follow its Canadian counterpart, which was retired last year.

"We have tended to be slower to follow suit in improvements in our currency in coins then other nations," Meyers said, "I think eventually you will see pennies go by the wayside, but there's a part of me that hopes not because I have been a collector of them for years."

At the sports shop, Caleb says his penny protest is a sign of the times.

"Do we need a 1 cent currency?" he asked rhetorically, "What costs 1 cent? You used to be able to buy Chiclets for one cent, you can't anymore."

The elimination of pennies only applies to those customers paying with cash at the sports shop. Magoon said people using credit cards and checks won't see a difference. If customers must pay with pennies, he will accept them, reluctantly.

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