We’re living in a period of high inflation. And the latest government report, which showed a 0.1% increase in the consumer price index in August and pointed to steeper price hikes in certain sectors, is prompting a Tuesday decline in the stock market. But at the New London Barn Playhouse in rural New Hampshire, it still costs just a nickel to rent a seat cushion. In fact, it’s been that price since the nearly 90-year-old organization was founded.
“There are certain things we do for the sake of tradition,” says Keith Coughlin, executive artistic director of the nonprofit playhouse. He adds that the proceeds of the rentals go to charity, with the annual total typically topping $1,000 (or 20,000 nickels). Coughlin says there’s never been a thought to charge more for the cushions — or pillows, to be precise — as a way to boost the playhouse’s contribution, or even to fund its own activities. The whole point is that the cost stays a nickel, almost as a nostalgic statement. It’s getting harder and harder to find such examples of fixed-in-stone pricing, however. Many brands and retailers say that they are inevitably forced to break with tradition so that they can stay afloat. In New York City, pizzerias that built their reputation on the budget-priced $1 slice are now often charging $1.50. And Dollar Tree
the bargain-priced retailer, has boosted prices from $1 to $1.25 in the past year, although the company insisted the move was not the result of “short-term or transitory market conditions.” Nevertheless, a few anti-inflationary holdouts remain. Perhaps the most famous is Costco …