I have been meaning to sit down and write another ‘year end reflection’ sort of post, and haven’t had the time. This isn’t that post. I will write it. Soon. Pinky swear.
In the meantime…
I realized the other day while I was working on closing my books for the end of the 2011 that the cafe had crossed the million-dollar total revenue mark recently (we made a bit over $400k last year and about $600k this year). “That’s pretty awesome,” said I to myself. Then I looked at the profit over these years, which totals just under $0 (our opening loss in 2009 wipes out every dollar made in 2010 and 2011, and then a few more). “So that’s not so awesome,” thought I. And then I thought more about it. Every single dollar that’s come through the front door of this cafe has gone somewhere, and every one of them has had some impact where it landed.
The biggest chunk went to our vendors – over $350k went to buy the stuff we sell; $50k went to supplies, $25k to repairs. Since almost all those vendors are local businesses, a chunk of their dollars are being spent somewhere in town, and then recirculating more.
The next biggest chunk went to our crew – we’ve paid out over $350k in salaries. Because almost all our employees live within about a mile of the cafe, it’s a good bet that a chunk of these dollars reappear on the streets of Berklandville as well.
$70k went to rent. My landlord happens to be a partnership of guys who live in Oakland and Berkeley, so some of their dollars also go back into the local moneystream.
$5k went to entertainers. $1,500 went to charities. All local.
We’ve collected and paid $70k in sales tax (that’s separate from the million bucks). Those dollars go to schools, police, firefighters, roads, and other useful stuff. (Granted, they do other less-useful things as well, but that’s the nature of taxation.)
The rest went to things like insurance, utilities ($45k!), permits, taxes, and on and on. (Almost $20k went to credit card processing fees, depressingly.)
This constant recirculation of money is the sort of thing that people on the radio and the TV call ‘the economy’, but that’s a bit abstract. Looking at real facts and figures helps make it a bit more concrete, at least for me. If I were a politician, I’d say that we ‘created’ a million dollars in ‘economic activity’ or ‘increased the local economy’ by a million bucks or some such. Since I’m not a politician, I don’t know exactly how I’d say it, but certainly the fact of the existence of Actual Cafe has contributed to the movement of dollars, and the fact that we prioritize doing business in our own community means that activity happens more often in our own backyard. Of course, the nature of ‘the economy’ is such that streams of money flow all over the damn place in the end – there’s no stopping them going literally all around the world and back.
I feel like an NPR reporter right now.