Lining Up at Starbucks to Send Your Money Out of Town

Last weekend I attended the Oktoberfest parade in uptown Waterloo, Ontario. The parade was great but it sure was a chilly morning. So chilly, in fact that people were lined up half way down the block waiting to get into Starbucks to purchase a hot drink. Itís too bad the two independent coffee vendors within a hundred meters were totally empty. Whatís up with that? People just arenít getting the concept of shopping locally.

Letís look at this example and see why itís wrong to forgo the local business for the international chain store.

Most folks would think that Starbucks is helping out our community by employing a bunch of people and by selling quality goods. Well, that is sort of true. Starbucks does employ a handful of staff. There is a manager who probably makes a half decent wage and the rest of the staff are paid about minimum wage. The thing is that there are no professionals involved in the business. All of the marketing, purchasing, human resources, accounting, legal and any other professional tasks are done in a city thousands of miles away. And every item in the store, from coffee, to light bulbs, to napkins and furniture are purchased on mass in a far away city and is trucked into our community (daily in the case of baked goods and dairy products).

In the locally owned coffee shop across the street, there is an owner/manager and several part time employees, but the similarity ends there. When the owner needs to purchase products for sale he contacts another local business. When the owner needs his/her accounting done at the end of the month, itís a local business that does his books. Similarly the local business person uses either his skills or those of others in town for marketing, advertising and such.

In the second scenario, very little of the money that is made in the coffee shop actually leaves the community. Other than the coffee beans which must be brought in, almost every item can be sourced from another local business. Your choice to purchase a coffee from your local shop means that possibly several dozen people in your community benefit from your purchase.

If you purchase your coffee from the big corporate guys, only a few local people feel the financial impact. Most of the revenue from your coffee purchase leaves town and heads into the hands of investors who donít even know that Waterloo exists.

I know a coffee only costs a couple of bucks, and the impact is not that great, but what if every one of the people in line made a different decision? Just something to think about while you watch the parade.

Just my two cents,

  • Posted On: October 11 2013
Hi, I'm one of the people who make's Shop-Local Canada hum. I'm a designer, programmer, editor, contributor and a support person. Cheers!

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