Orange County Market Owner Banning ‘Annoying' Pennies

Floating around in pockets and under couch cushions, pennies don’t often get the respect of say, the always-useful quarter.

One Orange County businessman thinks we should do away with them altogether, and that’s precisely what he’s doing -- banning them from being taken as payment at his two markets.

Beginning Jan. 1, Roland Foss is eliminating the penny at his two Mission Markets in Fullerton and Anaheim.

"We know how annoying pennies are,” Foss said. “Pennies take time. It holds up the line -- people don't like them."

Foss isn’t alone.

Advocacy group Citizens to Retire the U.S. Penny has argued that the country dropped the half-penny in 1857 and suffered no ill effects.

The group also cited a Walgreen’s and National Association of Convenience Stores study that said the penny adds an average of two seconds to cash transactions.

One of Foss’ markets is across the street from Fullerton Union High School, and Foss said the store does about 100 transactions during the 25-minute lunch period. He’s hoping the change will increase worker productivity.

"We're simply rounding the price up or down" to the nearest nickel, Foss said.

Last month, TV funnyman John Oliver used his “Last Week Tonight” desk to argue for the abolition of the coins, pointing out that each one costs 1.7 cents to make, meaning the government is losing money on every one of the billions of pennies it produces each year.

In 2013, even President Barack Obama weighed in during a Google+ talk.

"This is not going to be a huge savings for government. But anytime we're spending more money on something that people don't actually use, that's an example of something we should probably change," he said.

But lobby group Americans for Common Cents, which represents the company that makes the zinc and copper blank coins the pennies are made from, has argued that Americans are attached to the Abraham Lincoln-emblazoned coin.

It has also argued that rounding to the nearest nickel could mean that retailers will manipulate the prices so that they are always on the favorable end of the rounding.

Foss said he will keep some pennies on hand for customers who really want to use them, but he will post signs to tell customers about the planned change.

"In the long run, no one wins and no one loses, it all comes out even," Foss said.

The store also accepts credit cards, debit cards and even bitcoin.

Whitney Irick contributed to this report.

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