I love my local coffee shop.
Really there are two, the one near my office and the one near my house, but for all practical purposes they are the same. When I arrive they greet me by name, they ask if I want my regular order and on the few occasions that I want something different they know me well enough to make useful suggestions. They are nice, clean and friendly. There is really no practical difference between them.
But for one specific reason many people discount the one near my house. They are a Starbucks. I can only fault people so much for this. It was my practice for a long time to avoid “big brand coffee” in favor of the little guy but that changed when Starbucks entered my hood. They offered me a choice.
Before their arrival my only neighborhood option was a little mom and pop on the corner. On any given morning they were certainly going to be short on one of 5 things. Milk, cream, sugar, lids or change. The quality of service wasn’t too great either, probably because of the abuse the young lady behind the counter had to deal with from unsatisfied customers.
The store was so badly managed I found myself happy to see the big corporation move in to destroy the little guy. It forced me to question why I had so easily dismissed Starbucks prior to this. The only answer I could come up with was everyone else did.
Sure the money goes to a big corporation but why is it preferable to for my money to go to a person that does a crappy job? Truth is it isn’t. I’d be shocked if he gave his employees benefits, Starbucks does. He seemed to go through workers like underwear while the same people are working in the Starbucks after two years.
The more I think about it the harder it is for me to rule against them, sure I can’t stand the way they brand their “Ethos” water, the groups of school kids can be infuriating and we clearly have different musical tastes but ultimately I prefer the corporation in this case.
The funny thing is the local shop near work was originally owned by the same person that runs the crappy place near my house. And until he sold it, it was just as bad as his other store. It wasn’t until the new owner came and created a friendlier environment that it became a palatable option for me.
This has made me rethink why I do or do not like certain businesses. For me the two are the same if they treat me the same. And if they don’t I can’t see why I should support them.
But it seems that many people disagree with me. I’ve noticed that the Crappy Cafe is as busy as ever, there are clearly some folk that refuse to buy from a corporation even if it’s a better experience. That’s OK, it’s their choice and it keeps the line shorter when I’m waiting for my americano.