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'You just don’t make as much money' | Farmers weigh options of accepting credit card payments at markets

Three area farmers each have a different approach to handling payments, based on customer convenience, tax, and fees.

EAST MOLINE, Ill. — Fresh produce is in demand, and area farmers are taking full advantage. But depending on where you shop and who is selling, your payment options may be limited.

Credit cards have become common in almost every business transaction. Some farmers at the East Moline Grower's Market near the Rock Island County Fairgrounds choose to only accept cash. Others, however, say accepting credit cards is just part of doing business.

Travis Smeltzly has been coming to this market for more than five years.

"We have to pay to sit at our markets so we do $6 for 13 [ears of corn]," Smeltzly said.

That price has remained consistent over the years, Smeltzly said, because of a choice.

"It's inconvenient for us to do card," Smeltzly said. "So we just stick whoever we send to market with a money box with cash, and it's a lot simpler for us."

Cash is the preference for Gwen Baar, too. However, she takes a different approach and gives her customers options.

"I do it all," Baar said. "I get a lot of checks, I do debit and credit, you know, I try to be convenient for my customer."

When Baar does accept a card, the resulting fees eat into her bottom line.

"Fees come out of the transaction," Baar explained. "So, it's so much per transaction, and then it's a percentage of the total transaction so there's two fees associated with it."

Baar also said smaller transactions make credit card transactions less worth it to process. That's why she has a sign out at her stand explaining a $15 minimum purchase for using a credit card.

"Some people will come here and it’ll be 75 cents and they want to charge it," Baar said. "So then by the time I get charged a transaction fee and the percentage I’ve pretty much made nothing."

Baar said she does still run credit cards for transactions if the amount is not exactly $15 or more. She said this is all to provide convenience to her customers and keep them coming back.

"It’s something I just do so I can get business," Baar said.

If the demand for credit card payments was higher for Eugene Mohr's customers, he would consider adding that service when he goes to sell at markets. But to do that, he said he would first need to change his prices.

"I've lost a couple customers down in Moline this year actually and I just about lost one today, had it in the bag, hands me a card and I say 'whoops,'" Mohr said.

That investment could be worth his cost in the long run, Mohr said.

"Everything's gone through the roof, plants, seed, fertilizer, gas to get here," Mohr said.

It is a business decision for each of these owners that makes the most sense.

The East Moline Growers Market, which includes several different area farmers, is held every Wednesday and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

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