As small business owners and as consumers, we understand that when trying to buy or sell any product or service price is one of the most important considerations.   This is true even with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities.   We will try to find the best prices for all of these things even though we know that, ultimately, we will need to buy them regardless of the price.   We will go out of our way to save a few cents on gasoline or turn down the heat to save a little on our utility bill.

The search for the best price is more intense when we are looking to purchase discretionary items that we want but don’t necessarily need to buy.   People will wait all night outside of stores in order to be the first to snag a discount on some item or another or forego the purchase of that electronic gadget they want until it goes on sale.

In the face of this constant quest to find the best bargain so that we can get the most value for our money how do you explain the fact that so many people will plunk down $6 or more for a small bag of popcorn and over $4 for a small soda when they go to the movies?   We all know that small bag contains just pennies worth of popcorn and that small cup contains a fraction of the price in soda.   As if to further taunt you they always try to up sell you to the large bucket of popcorn and gallon jug of soda for just a few dollars more.   By the time you get to your $10 seat, you have spent close to $15 for your feast of popcorn and soda.

I don’t mind paying for the things that I want but, on principal, I very rarely will buy anything from the movie concession stand.   On one rare occasion when I bought popcorn I actually asked the salesperson how he was able to sell such a cheap product at these exorbitant prices with a straight face.  He apparently had no problem doing that as he just stared at me with a blank look on his clueless teenage face.

So, why do otherwise careful consumers knowingly submit to this blatant price gouging?   Is it that watching a movie and eating popcorn are so inexplicably intertwined that they just can’t help themselves or is it that some people simply can’t go two hours without eating no matter what the price?  Of course, the movie employees watch you like a hawk to make sure you do not bring in your own food or beverages in the hope that you will breakdown and indulge your irresistible urge to have their popcorn which you must wash down with their soda.

As I watch my fellow movie goers struggling to carry with both arms that large bucket of popcorn and gallon jug of soda, I can’t help but be reminded that there is a sucker born every minute and, apparently, they like to go to the movies.