George notices that the greeting card store downtown is going out of business and he sees this as a business opportunity! He believes that he can buy Texas-themed snow globes for $1 and resell them to his neighbors for $5. George is arbitraging the snow globes, buying low and selling high. He goes through some struggles at first, but finds out how to sell them by the end of the episode.
Boyle’s new food truck isn’t going well at all. He’s losing a lot of money and he can’t seem to change things around. Jake suggests Boyle does what he’s good at and just quits, suggesting that Boyle’s the average price Boyle charges for food is below even his average variable costs. Boyle took out a huge loan and he needs to help pay it back, which may mean that his prices are between the average fixed and average variable costs, in which case he should keep producing even though he’s losing money.
Springfield residents are clamoring to re-enact prohibition in town, but the City Council feels like the positive externalities outweigh the costs associated with alcohol. The County Clerk finds an old law for Springfield ordinance that actually outlaws alcohol. The new Duff Zero (alcohol-free beer) isn’t as popular as the original and the Duff factory has to shut down.
Struggling children’s bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) tries to remain positive as a big retail chain bookstore, Fox Books, opens around the corner. She outlines the differences between their products and services and notes how this could be a good thing for her business. When business try to differentiate their products, they are often operating in a monopolistically competitive environment. The one issue with the entrance of a new competitor in these markets is that it decreases demand for the other firms even if they are a little different. The accountant notes that their revenues are down compared to the same week last year.
I use this clip to introduce the concept of monopolistic competition in a market place and how demand shifts when close substitutes enter a market.
Price wars aren’t good for business profits, which is why many firms may want to collude. If two goods are close substitutes, prices should be driven down near the marginal cost of production. This is a good introduction to the long run outcome of perfect competition, but can also be used to show the shut down rule. When prices drop too low, it may be worth some firms to stop production.