For economists, a \”cartel\” refers to a group of firms jacking up prices to exploit consumers. Thus, I infer that this Arizona-based chain of coffee shops is not seeking the business of economists.

The company\’s website features comments like \”WE ARE CARTEL\” and \”JOIN THE CARTEL.\” I know nothing about the company\’s thinking in using the term. I suppose the use of \”cartel\” may be an ironic comment on the really big coffee-store chains; or perhaps it just sounded cool; or perhaps the company is trying to emphasize the cooperative nature of what happens inside a cartel, while deemphasizing the costs imposed on everyone outside a cartel. But for an economist, telling a consumer to do business with a cartel is like telling the sheep that it\’s time for shearing.

Hat tip: Victor Claar spotted this store at the Phoenix Airport and posted this picture on Facebook.

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