No more pennies makes cents: candy store manager

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Pretty soon pennies will be a thing of the past.

Businesses in Cornwall are readying for some change - pun fully intended.

The Canadian penny, that collector of dust and lint in pockets and atop the bedroom dresser, is on the way out.

The one-cent coin is scheduled to go out of circulation on Feb. 4, and all businesses from retailers to restaurants are preparing for when they’ll have to start rounding their cash transactions.

One such business is Pick and Chews, a candy store in Cornwall's Eastcourt Mall.

One can hardly find a busier place to see pennies used than a candy store.

Manager Sue O'Byrne is slightly ahead of the curve on this one - she's already begun to change the prices in her store to reflect the economic reality that many customers will experiene beginning next month.

"I wanted to be ready for February so that I could make the change," she said, adding many items in her store will now add up to an even dollar. "(Customers) hate the penny, and they've been saying they're glad to see it going."

Well, to be fair, the penny isn't going that far. They will still be accepted as currency for the time being, but aast May the Royal Canadian Mint stopped making them. Part of the reason was simple economics - it cost 1.6 cents to make one penny.

The mint had planned to begin taking the penny out of circulation in the fall, but business owners complaineded, saying they wouldn't be ready for the transition.

Now retailers and business owners are making sure their workers, as well as customers, are ready.

Lezlie Strasser, executive manager at the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said the business group is likely to start an education campaign shortly for its members and the public at large.

"I think there's still quite a bit of confusion on what this all means," she said. "The people that I've talked to still aren't sure about whether they will be rounding up, or rounding down."

For the record, the future will look like this: consumers paying cash for an item costing $1.01 or $1.02 - tax included - will pay only $1. An item costing $1.03 or $1.04 will be rounded up to $1.05.

Electronic transactions, including debit and credit card purchases, will not be affected. The elimination will only apply to total bills as opposed to individual items.

By scrapping the penny, the federal government hopes to save taxpayers about $11 million per year.

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