Plastic-bag ban, behind the scenes: Bakery Nouveau’s story

In previous discussions of the city’s impending “plastic-bag ban” – taking effect July 1st, as noted here last weekend – some have wondered how small businesses, especially those selling carryout food, are dealing with it. The Junction’s renowned Bakery Nouveau is telling its behind-the-scenes story on its website today – including the tax complications that it’s anticipating with the fee required for paper bags.

40 Replies to "Plastic-bag ban, behind the scenes: Bakery Nouveau's story"

  • Diane June 20, 2012 (3:57 pm)

    thank you Bakery Nouveau for your perspective from the small business side of this issue

  • skeeter June 20, 2012 (4:11 pm)

    I don’t understand the rounding concern. If customers were only buying one paper bag and nothing else, sure you’d have a rounding issue. But they are not buying just a paper bag. They are buying a bag and some other taxable item.

    The sales tax is not determined at the unit level. It is determined at the total purchase level. For example, if I buy one taxable pastry for $2.00 and one taxable paper bag at $.05, the sales tax is calculated on the entire pre-tax bill: $2.05. The sales tax always gets rounded up or rounded down. In other words, the additional $.05 will make it no more or less likely that the sales tax will get rounded up or down. You were already rounding before.

    If you don’t have a rounding problem now, you shouldn’t have a rounding problem next month either.

  • skeeter June 20, 2012 (4:12 pm)

    BTW – I am a complete geek. And I also love the Twice Baked Almond Croissant you guys make.

  • cj June 20, 2012 (4:14 pm)

    We take our old cloth earth day bags with us just about everywhere. People give us funny looks but maybe they need to get used to it.

  • squareeyes June 20, 2012 (4:20 pm)

    I don’t believe the pastries are taxed unless they’ve built the tax into the price – when I buy something for $4 they only charge me $4. Don’t know about the bevvies though since I don’t usually get those.

  • skeeter June 20, 2012 (4:39 pm)

    Food is normally not taxed in Washington. But there is an exception for food prepared onsite – that is subject to sales tax.

  • skeeter June 20, 2012 (4:43 pm)

    So the bakery items may not be subject to sales tax. But the cup of coffee, for example, is. My point is the bakery is already collecting sales tax now.

  • Mark June 20, 2012 (4:47 pm)

    What possibly could an elected official be thinking when they decide that government should insert itself between a business and a customer on what type of bag can be used and how much it should cost? Maybe the same ones that want to regulate what type of light bulbs we use?

  • Kate June 20, 2012 (4:56 pm)

    I don’t completely understand the point of their post–or I should say, I find their point short-sighted. They’re annoyed for reasons that, as far as I can tell, are neither theirs alone nor, really, terribly substantial (in terms of what it takes to run a small business). They hide their annoyance behind weakly stated, “Yeah, I guess it’s a good thing,” platitudes while not very subtly indicating that they are irritated about having to alter how they are currently doing business. Their final statement about “the values of reusing and recycling” is actually kind of sad–this isn’t about a “value” (either in terms of standards or in terms of monetary worth) it is about a massive and preventable environmental fiasco–created in the name of “convenience.”

  • Krystal June 20, 2012 (5:07 pm)

    Very interesting post! It’s great to hear a business side of this bag ban, and the (IMO) complications of operating a small business in Seattle/King county.

    FWIW, pillowcases make great baguette holders!

    I would love to see less individual wrapping of things in plastic bags–such as macarons. They used to be sans plastic–much better.

  • coffee June 20, 2012 (6:32 pm)

    If you are a business and you are shipping product to other areas outside of your sales tax base you have to remember to tax at that cities rate and then file taxes under all those entities. How about that for difficult accounting for a small business.

  • Amanda June 20, 2012 (7:00 pm)

    @Kate. As a bookkeeper, this new addition to the books is the annoyance. If you are not in 100% compliance or balance with the state, you will get changed penalties and interest. IF you get audited, it can be even worse. The state has put the financial burden on businesses (small and large alike) and has complicated a simple transaction. Everyone will get used to it, bookkeepers will figure out a way to make it all balance, but that is a separate issue from it being the “right thing to do”. The easiest solution, bring your own bags to your favorite places. You are doing them, and the environment a favor.

  • West Seattleite June 20, 2012 (7:28 pm)

    Wow. I just saw the King Tut exhibit. They seemed to have a lot of stuff together back 3000 years ago. And people today are complaining about phasing out plastic bags. Amazing. Just do it for gawd’s sake.

    Go, and whine no more. LOL.

  • Kate June 20, 2012 (7:53 pm)

    Thank you, West Seattleite. And yes, Amanda, I agree that the point was that they are annoyed. And that’s what I find, well, annoying. Don’t hide behind comments about how they support the idea, blah, blah, when really, they’re just irritated.

  • G June 20, 2012 (8:59 pm)

    I’m buying 1000 plastic bags and will continue to use them.

  • Peter June 20, 2012 (9:38 pm)

    I don’t get what their problem is. They’ll get five cents for every bag whereas now they get zero cents for every bag. Even paying sales tax in aggregate they come our ahead; all the bag fee does increases their profit.

  • I. Ponder June 20, 2012 (10:50 pm)

    Thank you to Skeeter for being a sensible reality-based explainer. One of the great things about having a blog, as Bakery Nouveau does, is it gives you the opportunity to give substance to what would otherwise be just ephemeral whining.

    Nowadays, anyone who has a business where customers are willing to stand in line to spend their money, should be thankful and shuddup about whether the penny gets rounded up or down.

  • Mike Flynn June 21, 2012 (12:03 am)

    In a world where we now pay for checking luggage on airplanes (including at least one carrier charging for CARRYON), pay a quarter for air for our tires, and other extra charges for items that used to be complimentary, this irks me especially. And it will hurt businesses, too, because I will probably occasionally avoid a purchase because I don’t have a bag in the car. Can we send our City Council to New York, where it will fall into lockstep with the Big Apple’s idiot mayor and his no-seventeen-ounce soda law?

  • Question June 21, 2012 (7:25 am)

    Complete and utter over reach by government. It has no business telling me what type of bag I can use.

    And to all you folks claiming how great fabric bags are, there have been several studies done that show e coli and other food borne illnesses thrive more in fabric bags because u don’t dispose of them like paper or plastic. And very few clean them or wash them as frequently as they should. They just throw em in the trunk and take them to the store the next time.

    Well when someone gets e coli from that I hope they sue the city of Seattle.

    If plastic bags are a problem, fine, use plastics bags that decompose. Don’t dream up a tax and ban all plastic bags. Classic example of a well intentioned law that has been dreamed up by a bureaucrat that has never done a real days work in their lives.

  • A June 21, 2012 (8:03 am)

    This is what is referred to as a “First World Problem.” If this is the biggest thing you have to b*tch about in your life, you’re a pretty fortunate person. Bring your own bags, or don’t. Your choice.

  • M June 21, 2012 (9:32 am)

    Just the consequences of hastily and poorly thought out government mandates

  • Question June 21, 2012 (10:12 am)

    Or you could define a first world problem as government having nothing better to do than worry about what type of bags their citizens are using, that means either you have too much government with too much time on their hands or that you have a government that is inept and doesn’t deal with problems that really matter.

    But hey let’s keep worrying about bike lanes and plastic bags, that’s the path to the future in Seattle. Forget schools, roads, and jobs. They aren’t important.

  • boy June 21, 2012 (10:18 am)

    Heres what you do. When the ban starts go to your local food store and fill your cart with icecream, milk, and all sorts of frozen foods and meats. Then at the check out pretend to not know about the ban an refuse to pay for the bags and just walk away. As voters we voted down the bag ban but the progresive socialist liberals of our CC seem to just keep pushing there ideals on us. When is the madness going to stop, And we can get back to being the land of the free.

  • Plain Sight June 21, 2012 (10:36 am)

    Blaming “the government” is pretty typical, but in reality it’s the irresponsible behavior of people who think they should be allowed to do whatever they want that enacts this type of legislation. If people were responsible we wouldn’t need things like laws but since so many act like spoiled children, this is what we get. The best option is to live responsibly anyway, so that things like this don’t affect you.

  • Kayleigh June 21, 2012 (11:47 am)

    Question, we are killing the planet. Plastic bags are horrible, and are part of how we are killing the planet. If we don’t protect the planet, it won’t matter how good our schools, roads, and jobs are. It’s pretty simple, and not really debatable.
    That people insist on being Whiny McPeepants about plastic bags is typical of what West Seattle is becoming. Which is unbecoming of a progressive city.

  • miws June 21, 2012 (11:54 am)

    boy, so you are suggesting punishing the store owners/managers/employees by causing time, food, and money waste for them, just to assist in unbunching your panties, when this policy is not the fault of them?


    (Man, I’ll be glad when I finally use up that 5,000 lb bag of Purina Troll Chow….)



  • M June 21, 2012 (12:36 pm)

    Good post Question. I would add that this is also what happens when the producers in society are too busy at work to go the the city council and presnet this sort of foolishness by saying things like “we are killing the planet”

  • datamuse June 21, 2012 (1:07 pm)

    This is what is referred to as a “First World Problem.”
    Ever been to southeast Asia? The shores of Tonle Sap in Cambodia are literally coated in plastic bags and other trash. It’s pretty distressing.
    Plastic bags and other trash that doesn’t decompose is a global problem.
    boy, you sound like the other commenter on this topic who was going to stop using trash bags and let their trash blow around their neighbors’ yard. What exactly are you accomplishing? Being annoyed at the ban is no excuse for behaving like a jerk.

  • Kayleigh June 21, 2012 (1:14 pm)

    M, are you saying plastic bags are harmless? Or are you just congratulating yourself on being more busy and important than those who actually care about the planet?
    Also, do you argue with research, evidence, and logic, or do you just pat yourself on the back?

  • boy June 21, 2012 (3:16 pm)

    MIWS This not to punish the stores but with these minor acts of civil disobediance maybe the stores will try to solve this problem. But it is going to be tough. We all know that seattle cc is anti business Tax this tax that it is enough to drive a small business nuts. Again I see that alot of people here don’t seam to have a problem seending people to the unemployment line and hurting there children in the process. Maybe in better times this would work because the people that make the bags might have a better shot at getting a job. Remember working people pay the taxes. No work no taxes. Still working your taxes go up to cover the difference. Plus I thought we voted down a bag ban.

  • Brian M. June 21, 2012 (5:16 pm)

    Kayleigh, What is it exactly that those of us in West Seattle are becoming? Every day, I look around and see wonderful people and neighbors. I see a kinship amongst people that is difficult to find in other parts of the city. I see local businesses that care about this community, and I see a great group of people that are loyal to local businesses. I see a place that has differing opinions, but with the recognition that each person has a right to be heard. Frankly, I am proud to call West Seattle home, even if you feel the need to hang your head in mock indignation.

  • Gina June 21, 2012 (6:31 pm)

    If your car is in the parking lot of the store, roll the cart to your car and unload. You don’t have to pay for bags. Most items are in a couple of layers of platic already.

  • Mr. Smith June 21, 2012 (7:13 pm)




  • Westie P June 21, 2012 (8:36 pm)

    I’ll be curious to see if bakery nouveau actually complies with the second of the city’s waste reduction ordinances since they are NOT in compliance with the first, which states that all their patrons be given the option, when disposing of their waste, of recycling, composting, or garbage-ing. 3 disposal bins are required by the city and are to be well marked.

    Currently, the bakery has two side by side bins: one for recycling and one for garbage. Considering that all the food and paper bags the serve their baked goods in are compostable

  • Westie P June 21, 2012 (8:41 pm)

    (oops…posted before finished)
    ….seems a shame to send all that food and compost able paper to the city’s landfill, in Oregon.

  • miws June 22, 2012 (6:46 am)

    But you are indeed punishing the store, boy, with the inconvenience caused to employees and owners/managers, of having to re-stock, when they may be very busy, and the possible loss, due to having to discard the perishables, due to the fact they may not know how long they were out of refrigeration, or wondering if you tampered with any of the food that is not in easily impenetrable packages.



  • Dunno June 22, 2012 (12:12 pm)

    How about putting it on the ballot and we all vote?

  • datamuse June 22, 2012 (4:44 pm)

    Well, boy, I guess as long as you’ve bought the stuff you can do what you like with it.
    Frankly, I think the effect if you do it often enough will be to get you barred from the store, but what do I know.

  • miws June 22, 2012 (7:57 pm)

    Well, boy, I guess as long as you’ve bought the stuff you can do what you like with it.


    Now that I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with.


    Maybe the store could donate the non-perishables to the local Food Bank.


    Or, they could just put the items back on the shelf, put the money into a special account, adding to it each time boy pulls his little stunt.


    Theeennnnnn when they’ve saved up enough, they could give back to the West Seattle community, by building Park-n-Ride somewhere!



  • anonymous June 26, 2012 (8:41 pm)

    I understand the whole concept of the bag ban, but I’m at a loss for what type of bag I’m supposed to use for my garbage now. Are there eco-friendly garbage bags for sale somewhere in Seattle?

Sorry, comment time is over.