Monday, July 02, 2007

A winning combination: Big Boxes, coffee and cigarettes

The nearest 'big city' to my Little House in the Big Woods is SmallTownGettingBiggish.
Once a sleepy foothill community, the town seems to be experiencing a growth spurt. Slow and most steady.
With plenty of room to build, more people are a-comin'.
Property taxes will continue to rise, as will the median income. A population with disposable funds can support more amenities. Progress, once inevitable, is unstoppable. Changes that may cause the old-timers to go into an uproar are oftentimes (true confession) exciting to the newerbies.

An idyllic life indeed ~ in the 'best of all possible worlds': the laid back ambiance of a small town PLUS the discounted prices, convenience, familiarity ~ offered by Medium and Big Box stores/franchise restaurants. Sure, we'll bitch along with everyone else about the increased traffic, but boyohboy just imagine this happening: a Best Buy, Trader Joe's, Borders Books and an Outback to go along with the new Home Depot (the first four are flights into fantasy, Home Depot a reality - the foundation is being laid as we speak)...

Shopping here currently requires a bit of research and a lot of resourcefulness should one desire a specific good or service. You can usually find what you need somewhere in town - so long as the item in question isn't too 'exotic' (whatever that might mean). What most shops here lack in curb appeal, they make up for with limited but reasonable inventory; as well as the kind of friendly, personal service not typically found in Big Box settings.

This area may be in the baby-steps-stage of catching up to what other cities of the same size offer for shopping and dining, but with no uncertainty, change is coming.

If this is any indication -
- there are 3 (count 'em, 3) Starbucks in this town. They all do a hoppin' business. People from near, far and wide make beeline 'Do not stop at Go, Do not collect $200' pilgrimages to these three caffeinated watering holes. The parking lots are always full. A never ending queue of cars snake up to the drive-throughs.
Regular customers pack into the stores, with the 10+ word description of their fave coffee concoction ready to roll off the tips of their caffeine-withdrawn tongues to fall upon the ears of the eagerly awaiting Starbucks barista.

Tall/Grande/Venti in hand, every satisfied customer sips his/her beverage at what, these days - passes for a 'leisurely pace': in the car...driving madly to work or school... racing to the nearest Big Box store to drop some Big Bucks. Back for another shot of caffeine once the cycle begins anew the next day. Though rumor has it ~ some return for another hit the very same day....

('Addictive to Coffee' cartoon from

Interestingly enough, the other business in this small town (of few amenities) that can boast of a non-stop flow of customer traffic: a tiny, hole-in-the-wall, tacky, unadorned, dimly lit, stinky, bare bones, fly-by-nightish cigarette store.

(What's not to love about this classic Larson:  
'The real reason for dinosaur extinction...')

Big Boxes, coffee and cigarettes. Did I say a 'winning combination'?
Au contraire?


jessierose said...

I just wish that instead of one of the 20 Starbucks in each town there could be a nice little mom'n'pop type bakery and/or a fantastic bookstore (we have neither of these in my town).

As much as I've been craving those syrupy-sweet-concoctions lately, I think that people should start owning up to what they're actually ingesting at Starbucks. I know going 3 times daily for a caffeine fix is the norm nowadays, but people need to admit that it's actually caffeinated, liquid, dessert. And stop hating on me for my love of certain baked goods!

(oooh. touchy subject. I love pie!)

baffle said...

Ditto on wishing on the smaller mom n' pops - however, and alas!

I personally haven't succumbed to Starbucks Syndrome (too many other addictions as is: read: yarn buying!).

Instead, I observe ~ bewitched, bothered, bewildered and bemused.