Columbus businesses go cashless to limit contact

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Some businesses in the Columbus area are going cashless during the global pandemic, as a way to limit contact between customers and staff.

Highline Coffee Co. in Worthington is one of the businesses doing this. Since they reopened on May 2, they have been accepting cards and alternative methods of payment, choosing to avoid physical currency.​

“We chose to do a completely, as contactless as possible set up where customers are not entering the store,” said Christie Bruffy, owner of Highline Coffee Co. “It’s just helping us eliminate that direct contact with the customer, so keeping everyone safe.”​

It’s also convenient for Bruffy and customers, in different ways. For people like Bo Corbin, a dad with a couple of small children, dealing with cash and coins while trying to keep an eye on his kids is not his cup of tea. He prefers the quick swipe of a card.​

“I don’t use cash for much, so you know, call me a millennial but, if I could fit everything I need as far as like money and phone and all that in one spot and you know, that’s the way to go,” said Corbin. “Convenience is what we want.”​

He also understands and appreciates what the business is trying to do in terms of health and safety. Meanwhile a regular of Highline, Don McMullen says he doesn’t mind the cashless experience as long as he doesn’t forget his card at home.​

He is still relatively new to using plastic to pay for his transactions. A self-described older adult, McMullen says he used to carry cash exclusively. ​

“It’s real easy just to slide that card, slide that card, at the end of the day, or at the end of the week you look, oh my gosh, I what? I spent this?” said McMullen. ​

The benefits of going cashless to business owners can including not having to make as many trips to the bank since there are no deposits to make and no change needed to procure. Spare change is something Highline was going through a lot of when it was accepting cash before the pandemic.​

However, there is a major drawback to a cashless business. ​

“As a business owner, the fees that you pay with cards are pretty significant so, I have to take that into consideration as well,” said Bruffy.​

She says the business is eating those fees and she hasn’t raised her prices to offset them. She is unsure if or when she would. They are already planning on maintaining their current contactless setup for at least another year. ​

“Everyone is accepting of it, they understand why, they’re all either already carrying a card or they’ve got the Google Pay, the Apple Pay, so it’s been really convenient, said Bruffy. “I think they’ve appreciated the set up where we’ve got the card reader right out on the table.”​

Still, in a few months they will have to figure out how to operate when the temperatures drop. Right now, with the warm weather, they can have the front door open and walk-up service.

When it starts to get cold, that may not be an option anymore. ​

In the meantime, she says things have been going smoothly. ​

“It really hasn’t been a big deal. As soon as customers see that we’re not taking cash, they immediately pull out the credit card. We haven’t had to turn anyone away,” said Bruffy. “I think people are starting to realize that that’s happening all over.”​

Another business, the Sassafras Bakery at the far end of the block has also gone cashless.

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