Amazon’s Free Banana Stands Disrupting Local Fruit Economy

Image courtesy of Amazon

Although there is no money in Amazon’s community banana stands — where the company has been offering free fruit to both workers and locals in Seattle since 2015 — the tech giant’s largesse is changing the banana landscape for some nearby businesses.

The brainchild of CEO Jeff Bezos, there are now two stands on its corporate campus staffed with “banistas” led by “bananagers” who give out bananas to anyone and everyone nearby, whether that’s one banana for breakfast or a dozen.

Thus far, the company says it’s handed out more than 1.7 million free banana, reports The Wall Street Journal. But while many folks are fans of of the free bananas, others say it’s changing banana consumption in the community: Some workers say it’s harder to find bananas at local grocery stores, while nearby eateries have also stopped selling as many banana as they used to.

For example, the manager of one cafe says he believes people are grabbing a free Amazon banana to put on their morning yogurt, instead of paying the eatery $1 for a sliced banana. Instead, the cafe is now offering banana-flavored items to tempt fruit lovers.

“People have bananas on the brain,” she told the WSJ.

At another restaurant nearby, a manager says people often walk in for a meal with free bananas in hand, eat them at the table along with whatever else they order, and then often leave their peels behind when they go.

Banistas say they move about 8,000 bananas per day through the two stands, Monday through Friday. The flood of free bananas shows no signs of stopping, either: Despite requests for other kinds of fruit at the stand, bananas are cheap, and don’t require permits to hand them out.

“As far as the health codes go, you can hand out bananas and oranges, because they come in their own packaging,” says John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities.

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