Think Globally, Drink Locally

25 August 2007 at 10:24 am 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

Railing against corporate dictatorship, delocator.net helps consumers find locally-owned cafes, bookstores, and movie theatres in their area — alternatives to the “invasion” of Starbucks, Borders, and their ilk. The site itself is actually quite an interesting capitalist idea in its freshness and creativity, and people certainly should eat or drink or shop where they are most comfortable. That’s the beauty of competition! And the kind of community-building that often takes place at familiar, time-tested, local shops is to be encouraged.

But to say local businesses possess some kind of moral magic simply by virtue of being family-owned and homey is preposterous.

That’s Brooke Levitske, writing on the Acton PowerBlog. Recently a friend asked what I thought of Wendell Berry and his agrarian, anti-industrial philosophy. My response was similar: If people wish to live according to these principles, more power to them. I object only when materialist urbanites are forbidden by law from pursuing their own path to enlightenment.

Incidentally, does anyone remember the WSJ article a few years back suggesting that local cafes benefit when Starbucks moves to town? The theory is that the presence of a Starbucks increases local demand for premium coffee, providing spillover benefits to local stores. I haven’t seen any systematic evidence on this, however.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Classical Liberalism, Cultural Conservatism. Tags: .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Bo  |  29 August 2007 at 9:56 am

    While I am not aware of any systematic study on this, I do know that in Seattle, the number of small, independent coffee shops has increased during the reign of Starbucks. In fact, Starbucks has made Seattle the coffee capital of the US (or the world?) which has led to “coffee-tourism” which, all other things being equal, may have positive spill-over effects on other coffee-shops as well.

    Those of us having lived in Seattle also know that locals like to sound sophisticated by talking about the their local coffee shop and by trashing Starbucks – however, the fact remains that you are always in line in every Starbucks in and around Seattle…

    I recently saw a competition of who had the most Starbucks within a 5 mile radius of their home – Starbucks (of course) provides a helping hand at: http://www.starbucks.com/retail/locator/

    The record I saw was 165 between 55th and Broadway, NY – anybody beat that? Here in Copenhagen (actually all of Denmark) we have only 1 – located in the airport – thankfully I am more than 5 miles away…

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