Competition in an Ice Cream Duopoly

GoodHumorIceCreamTruck.jpg “Jose Martinez parked his Good Humor truck Tuesday at an Upper West Side corner that is said to be Mister Softee territory.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. C13) On Tuesday afternoon, new battle lines were drawn on the Upper West Side at the corner of Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street, where Ceasar Ruiz, 50, the Mister Softee man, said he had been selling ice cream without any competition for more than eight years.
He said his routine was the same every season. He arrives at the corner by about 2:30 each afternoon, mostly to catch the students getting out of Public School 9 and the Anderson School, just a few yards from the corner. He stays for about an hour and a half, then moves to his next location, he said.
But Tuesday afternoon was different. When he arrived, there sat the freshly painted Good Humor truck and Mr. Martinez, decked out in a crisp uniform, ringing his bell.
“I sell Good Humor, too,” Mr. Ruiz said. “But his is more cheap. I sell bar for $2. He might sell for $1.50. Not good. Not good.”
Over the din of children clamoring for Dora the Explorer ice cream bars and Mega Missile Pops (red, white and blue rocket-shaped popsicles), Mr. Martinez rang his bell louder, openly competing for customers.
“I’m trying to make a dollar just like he is,” said Mr. Martinez, his voice rising loud enough for the other driver to hear. “He’s telling me I have to go. But he doesn’t own this spot.”
. . .
About five minutes before 4 o’clock, Mr. Ruiz leaned out of his Mister Softee truck, looking over at Mr. Martinez.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to beat him here,” he said. “I’ll be the first one here.”

For the full story, see:
TRYMAINE LEE. “It’s Still Spring, but the Ice Cream Truck War Revs Up.” The New York Times (Weds., May 14, 2008): C13.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.