Cheap Versus Less Expensive

Many years ago, I worked for an elderly man (Jim) in the health food industry. He had spent his entire career working in the grocery business and eventually owned two small local grocery stores. During all of those years, he acquired the necessary knowledge and a unique way of communicating to his customers to help make his business a success.

One day, I asked him which bread was cheaper, the whole wheat, or the rye bread. Before he gave me a numeric amount, he proceeded to emphasize the importance of not using the word ‘cheap’ or ‘cheaper’ when it came to price comparisons in the grocery business. According to Jim, using ‘cheap’ would convey inferiority, which was something, you tried to avoid – especially with a small grocer. If you wanted to compare prices, one should use less expensive or more expensive or least expensive. Using that five-letter word in a grocery context especially when Jim was around was strictly “verboten.”

Now, every time I hear someone use the word ‘cheaper’ instead of ‘less expensive’, I cringe and think of Jim. I’m glad I learned that small lesson years ago but only wished others had been exposed too. It’s just a good habit to have.