Chain of demand

—Donna Bummer

A: Hate to break it to you Donna, but the old “she’s working hard for the money, so you better treat her right” philosophy just doesn’t cut it on the boardroom floor. Such is the case here.

 First, some background. The deal is that during UVA’s home football and basketball games, local nonprofits and civic groups, such as the Charlottesville High School Orchestra, counting their pennies to perform in Dallas, are blessed with the opportunity to serve Diet Coke to co-eds and sell snazzy ties to alumni. In exchange, the do-gooders keep a share of the profits, in the past that being 10 percent for one and all.

 The Aramark Corporation, which specializes in outsourcing services, is in charge of doling out the jobs and spare change to nonprofits that opt for food concessions. Until this season, the UVA Bookstore coordinated the lackeys who staffed retail concessions, but (insert ominous organ music here) that’s about to change.

  Yup, this fall the UVA Bookstore made, in the official rhetoric of bookstore director John Cates, the decision to “concentrate more on our core business—the bookstore…and the tent outside the stadium.” High and dry, UVA looked to Aramark to take over retail staffing and save the day.

 As per the instructions in their policy bible, Aramark docked nonprofit profit to 7 percent from 10 percent for retail concessions, although when it comes to food sales, Aramark still parts with the coveted 10 percent, says Kate Shields, a communications middleman at the company. This has the groups that will be profiting a little less in the future—the CHS Orchestra and the Lion’s Club, for example—up in arms.

 Allow Ace to crunch some numbers. At 10 percent, the young Itzhak Perlmans of the CHS Orchestra earn about $45 per prodigy, per game, estimates orchestra director Laura Thomas. This means that with seven little musicians at work, total take would equal $315. Take the profit down to 7 percent and their just rewards are slashed to $31.50 per kid. Phew! (Old Ace failed to ace math class past the sixth grade.)

 But who’s the real Scrooge here? The Bookstore? Aramark? The nonprofits for not just shutting up and being grateful? Ace suggests the wisdom of Henry Ford: “Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching for what it gets.” So all ya’ll, just keep clucking.

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