Did customer resentment kill Santoni's?

In a July 2011 interview with the Baltimore Business Journal, Rob Santoni Jr. admitted that his store had been paying the bottle tax instead of passing it on to consumers. So if the actual prices of beverages didn't increase, are we supposed to believe that consumers stopped shopping at Santoni's just because of their opposition to the idea of a bottle tax ("Highlandtown Santoni's folds," Oct. 14)?

If their opposition to the tax was that strong, wouldn't they be more likely to support its most outspoken critic? It just doesn't seem to make sense. Maybe Mr. Santoni was hurt far more by his political views than the extra pennies added to each bottle. There is a recent conservative refrain that claims complete credit when they are successful (the "we built it" talking point from the last election is but one example) and blames the government whenever they aren't. I know that if I had been a regular Santoni's customer, I would have stopped shopping there as soon as I read the first interview he gave about the bottle tax.

I'm not suggesting that he should have kept quiet, I just think that whenever business owners step into the public eye to express strong political views, they should not be surprised when they alienate many of their customers.

Dan Gugliuzza, Baltimore

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