At the moment, the banana market around Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters is a bit of a mess.* According to the Wall Street Journal, they’re tough to find in grocery stores in the area, and some restaurants have stopped selling them. And it’s all because Amazon has been handing out free bananas to anyone and everyone.
Amazon’s community banana stands were dreamed up by CEO Jeff Bezos, who thought the company could help the local community by giving out healthy food. The first stand opened on the campus of the online retailer in December 2015, and it was joined by another in October 2016. More than 1.7 million bananas have been given away by the “banistas” who run the two stands, Monday through Friday.
Those 1.7 million bananas have flooded the hyperlocal market, and now “Amazonians” appear to be reluctant to pay actual money for a Cavendish. Nearby restaurant owners have also complained that patrons are forgetting their banana manners by bringing in outside fruit and leaving the peels behind. Other establishments are capitalizing on the banana frenzy and have added extra banana-based treats to their menus.
Love the Amazon Community Banana Stand in Seattle’s South Lake Union pic.twitter.com/0wtRW0VIJm— Ford Davidson (@blackball) February 18, 2016
The stands have no plans to switch to other fruits anytime soon. Banistas say people have requested avocados and more, but the cost is just prohibitive. Seattle’s fruit and vegetable sellers—once they have fully adjusted to the new banana order—can breathe easy.
*Editor’s note: This story has been updated since it was first published to clarify the geographic area affected by Amazon’s banana stands.