If you come to Key West to live. And you start up some sort of business here. And said business is something fun that people like to do, like kayak trips for example, at some point you are going to be faced with something called, “the Local’s Discount.” Here is how it works.
Someone will come to your business and want to partake of your services. Rent a kayak for example. They will ask all sorts of questions, tying up your time for a while, and when all is said and done, they will ask how much your services will cost. When you tell them, they will immediately ask, “Do you give a local’s discount?”. If you say no, they walk away without so much as a thank you.
There seems to be some unwritten law amongst the local crowd that everyone who lives here is entitled to a discount for services, especially fun stuff that the tourists all pay for. Simply because one lives here, and life is oh so hard and expensive, when one wants to go out and play, one should be able to do so for less than what the great unwashed tourists pay.
You, as a business owner must make a decision when approached by someone demanding, (they don’t ask, they demand), a local’s discount. If you do give a local’s discount, you risk being taken advantage of. Said entitled person will repeatedly come back again and again, using your equipment pretty much whenever they feel like it. Don’t give a local’s discount, and said entitled person will blab all over the island that you are a greedy bastard who does not care about anyone else. That would be me.
I have had more than a few people come up to me when I’m working the kayak gig demanding the local’s discount. I refuse every time. People get mad, they stomp their feet and hold their breath til they turn blue, just like little kids. Many a time they come in on a busy holiday wanting to use kayaks. We are usually very busy over said holiday and giving out discounted kayaks rentals when people are lining up to pay full price, well, ain’t happening.
I’ve also have more than a few locals, who did get discounts in the past, abuse and lose equipment, get lost, don’t come back when they are suppose to, abandon equipment, and generally are a pain in the ass. You agree to rent out one kayak, and suddenly, 12 people show up with the first person, along with several coolers of adult beverages. You know things are not going to go well. And in the past they have not. So, I don’t do the local discount anymore.
Some places do offer something for the locals once in while. A free day of tours, the local golf course offers a discount on Monday’s for locals, things of that nature. But for the average small business, especially one trying to get things rolling and start making some of that profit thingy that everyone talks about, giving out discounted or free shit to a local just does not pay off. You get taken advantage of every time.
Sure it’s expensive down here and a little break on the price of something is nice. I get it once in a while, but I don’t actively go out and ask, or demand it. But it’s also expensive to run a business down here. Gear costs money. Boats take fuel and maintenance no matter if the customer is paying full price or not. It is not worth it to automatically give out discounts to anyone simply because they live here. If someone did something to earn a discount, or you bartered out services, things of that nature, then sure, why not. But to just blatantly walk up to a business, any business and demand a discount for no other reason than because you live here? No.