Big Bills

Neither a sports column nor advance warning about invoices-yet-to-come, the present Blog addresses what’s in your wallet. Or maybe what you wish was there.

Food and beverage vendors at large outdoor antiques show have much to prepare. The food they will serve and the beverages, of course. Though the latter is usually packaged.

As well, the food preparation set-up. Grills for the dogs and burgers, stainless steel containers for the condiments (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, relish, onions – your vegetable group, you know), ice to chill the water, lemonade and soda containers.

And then there are the bills. Lots of bills. In small denominations. Plenty of twenties, tens, fives and lots of singles.

All vendors must have change for currency because the only thing all the people attending the event are doing is spending money. No one goes to antiques shows simply for people-gazing or social purposes. Or for the food. Though such outcomes are neither unexpected nor unwelcome.

At outdoor antiques shows, customers use credit cards less often than they do checks and, especially, cash. In part, this is due to spotty Wifi service or the vendor’s refusal to accept cards, accompanied by services fees the vendor must bear and the customer never notices. Plus, cash seems a useful lubricant for transactions at a discount price.

Cash. Greenies. What’s not to like? It’s immediately spendable. Which, at an antiques show, is essential.

Antiques collectors who are prepared, arrive at shows with cash. Somewhat amazingly, even those collectors whose appearance suggests they don’t know enough to come in out of the rain, are loaded with cash. Big wads. The kind that only rubber bands formerly used to hold grocery store produce will contain.

One would think cash a readily acceptable form of payment virtually anywhere. It says right on it, after all, “legal tender.”

Indeed, at least among collectors and dealers, the Benjamins are so popular, it’s a wonder he never became president.

But, reportedly, at some high-end Miami antiques shows – those heavily populated with jewelry, watches, art and similar merchandise – dealers began to refuse cash as payment some time ago.

Money laundering (for drugs), it was feared. And counterfeiting.

Some collectors, though, get a bit carried away. Carefully prepared with their many, many hundred dollar bills for the antiques show, they try using them elsewhere.

Coffee shops, for instance. Not always such a good idea where plastic seems preferred to paper.

And with one more group at one more place: New York State Thruway tolls.

One collector handed a Thruway toll-taker a crisp $100 bill for the $4 toll he owed. The toll-taker patiently counted out, and then recounted, the 96 singles for his change. “Have a nice day,” the toll-taker said.

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