Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Starbucks vs. Stanley: Meeting Tomorrow

FWIW: I'll be at work.

I've been informed that the Finance Committee of the Louisana State Museum Board will be holding a public meeting tomorrow/Thursday, June 7th, at 3:30 p.m. in the Arsenal Room of the Cabildo to discuss whether the State Museum should lease the Lower Pontalba Building commercial space that formerly housed La Madeleine to Starbucks or Stanley.

Before I say anything more, I've never been a Starbucks basher. I don't like its practice of saturating a local market in attempt to drive out local businesses (I'm deliberately giving the anti-Starbucks version), but it does offer better pay and benefits than comparable companies. Because it even offers health insurance to part time employees, I actually thought about applying at one when I was only a part time public library employee. Still, I've never been a Starbucks customer because I prefer to give my business to local companies -- that's also why I rarely go to PJ's anymore. My point is that you should always try to shop local (no matter where you are), but some of the Starbucks bashing seems a little uncalled for.

When I read last month's Stanley vs. Goliath article I got the strangest sense of deja vu:
She said it would be most appropriate for a New Orleans business to operate at the site. But Starbucks would lure much-needed tourism traffic to the corner and last through good times and bad, she said.

"This is a dead corner," Lewis said Monday. "I have nothing against Stanley and I wish he could make it there, but Starbucks can weather the market for 10 years. They've got the deep pockets to stick it out (until the market returns)."

Longtime Jackson Square artist Sam Hurwitch also supports Starbucks.

"The demographic has changed," he said on Monday, a day when skies were cloudy and tourism was slow. "Starbucks is better than hamburgers and beer. Let them do a historic sign approved by the Vieux Carre Commission."

Hurwitch said a Starbucks could turn around the corner's slow retail activity.

They don't have anything against the local guy, but they think that the big national guy would help them financially. In fairness, they are hurting. It's an understandable sentiment, but the whole article seems like a metaphor for something, I just can't quite put my finger on what.

I also think that the people who think that Starbucks would attract more business are mistaken, or may well be mistaken. I don't believe that local Starbucks have done very well, at least not all of them. The one on the Uptown end of Magazine hasn't re-opened and I never did get the impression that it did very well, even though three nearby (one local, one formerly local, one Baton Rouge based) establishments thrived. Unfortunately, members of the museum board seem to be talking about understanding the preference for a local business, but feeling the need to make up for lost revenue. That doesn't sound good.

Wait a minute. The downriver corner of Chartres at Jackson Square is a "dead corner"? What kind of crap is that? I'm not necessarily trying to sound like a "Starbucks basher" either, but exactly how does a Starbucks "lure" toursits to Jackson freaking Square? It doesn't make sense to me.
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