"Coffee Clash" [November 1], Lewis Lazare's article about the demise of the popular coffeehouse Scenes at the hands of competitor Starbucks, really touched a nerve.
A raw nerve. I happen to be the proprietor and co-owner of a small, just-barely-making-it coffeehouse in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, on the city's far southwest side.
As with so many other small businesses staring down the barrel of the national chain stores, the "deep-pocketed" probes that Starbucks has allegedly launched into my community could spell death not only for my coffeehouse, but likely two other independents as well.
Like many of my fellow Beverly residents, I am passionate about my community. Maintaining a viable business district is one key to a healthy community. In large part, it's the locally owned businesses that can return far greater economic and civic dividends to those living in the community than the national chain stores can or will.
In the November 11 issue of In These Times magazine, Nicole Nolan's "Starbucked" recounted incidents in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Toronto where grassroots opposition to Starbucks ("Save the local economy, Stop Starbucks Campaign") prevented the coffee chain from displacing some of their respective small local establishments. It proved a public relations disaster for Starbucks, and an important victory for grassroots efforts.
I say we stand poised to do the same. Ultimately, the community, working in community, preserves the community.