We all know that SPAM is iconic and widely beloved. But I had to ask, on first reading this story, “SPAM is pretty cheap, as it is. Where’s the profit in Black Market SPAM?” Well, it turns out that HAWAII is a unique SPAM market and folks there will do almost anything to save a few cents on a staple…
SPAM first came to Hawaii in the 30s, when the United states was building up its Naval Base at Pearl Harbour. In Fact, SPAM went everywhere U.S. servicemen went, around the world. Well, the Polynesian original people of Hawaii got addicted to the stuff right off, and they’ve considered SPAM a kitchen staple ever since.
I was further aghast to discover that Hawaiians consume more SPA, per capita, than anyone else in the world. Well, you knew they love their Pork… and Ham! And SPAM is their favourite way to consume cured Pork.
Break-in artists have been stealing SPAM by the case, lately, and they’re selling it at a discount, off the backs of trucks and, we assume, on the street corner like illicit drugs. Why pay (US)$2.49 a can for SPAM when you can get it for (US)1.50 on the Black Market? Whatever the thieves can get for the stuff is pure profit.
As a result…
Store owners are locking up their SPAM stocks as if they were gold bricks and break-ins are rising sharply.
Tina Yamaki, President of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, told KIT TV 4 she feels that a black market has developed for the product where people can use it as currency.
“We’re seeing it more and more and there’s a lot more volume being taken out of stores now. It’s a combination of felony charges have gone from $300 up to $750. So, now, [only] if you steal $750 [is it] a felony. So, people are stealing right up underneath [$750].” Yamaki explained.
Drug addicts can apparently pay for their habit with SPAM. A whole network of middlemen and brokers has been set up to handle the exchange of SPAM for cash. Three women were caught trying to steal 18 cases of SPAM from a Long Beach Drugstore recently, in broad daylight!
And it’s not just SPAM…
It’s not just SPAM that’s being shoplifted in bulk. Many items are now locked up or placed behind the counter because they’re popular targets of theft. Other frequently stolen items include clothing, electronics, expensive liquor and tobacco.
“It’s really unfortunate for the people of Hawaii because the prices go up and it’s also unfortunate for the retailers as well.” Yamaki noted.
Shoplifting is bad for everybody…
I, for one, am glad this is taking place only in Hawaii. But don’t kid yourself: Shoplifters cost retailers all over the world millions in losses every year. And, yes, if we could wipe out shoplifting, prices might go down. Retailers’ costs would go down, both for loss write-offs and high insurance premiums.
~ Maggie J.