Monday, February 1, 2010

Making room for progress

A local cafe has closed, and the Celtic shop beside it is relocating, I discovered last week during a walk uptown. Why? No particular reason. Oh, except for the fact that a new clothing store came along and said, "We want your spot in the mall." And the mall let them have it, in spite of having to uproot two stores, both local businesses.

The House of Tara, the Celtic store, moved to that spot originally because it was in a better place for foot traffic than their first location. I don't much like the owner of the store, since she seems to have a frown for everybody who looks younger than 35, but I'm glad to at least see that she's relocating rather than closing down, because there's been a House of Tara in this city since I was a child.

Holly's Cafe Soha, on the other hand, just rolled belly-up at the news and is closing down completely, isn't even trying to relocate. They were doing good business there in a good spot. Rumour has it that they were on top of their lease but evicted from the spot anyway, because the mall owners felt that the new clothing store could bring in better business.

As I said to my roommate, this is the biggest problem with living in a "city on the grow." Big businesses come in and get rid of the smaller ones, the local ones that were loved as established for years. It's the price we all pay for progress.

Assuming you define progress as a wider choice of clothes, that is. I know I don't. I get 90% of my clothes from thrift stores anyway. But even if I bought brand new, I think I'd still avoid this new store on principle. I don't like it when big companies evict smaller ones. It's like playground politics. "I like what you have, so gimme!"

I was annoyed when the first Starbucks came to this city a few years back. Their first location? 50 feet from the local equivalent, Java Moose. Sure, it's great that people have another choice, but when the majority of sheeple see a bi famous brand versus a small local one, they're going to choose big and famous. Then another Starbucks came. Then another. We now have 4 in the city, 3 of them in less than a square mile, and the other uptown.

I don't buy from Starbucks. I don't like their lack of commitment to fair trade (they advertise fair trade for only one of their coffee types, at least here, whereas Java Moose advertises that it's on board with fair trade for all of their coffees), and besides, Java Moose makes a much better chai! (And Starbucks doesn't do iced chai, either, which is one of my favourite drinks from Java Moose.) If I'm going to pay $4 for a chai, I'm going to give it to the company I support the most and who makes a better product!

I buy local when I can. It prevents the world from being taken over by Starbucks and WalMart.

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