I have a past that not many WordPress folks know about: I’m a social justice, hippy protester at heart. Back in the day, I was one of those guys who went to protest rally meetings. Sometimes it didn’t matter what the protest was for, I just wanted to be there. But one of the “social justice” issues that often got me riled up was the way giant conglomerate corporations loved to sweep into small towns and swallow local businesses whole. I still to this day can’t be PAID to step foot in a WalMart. At one time, I wouldn’t step foot in a Starbucks. I believed at that time that Starbuck’s very presence in a community triggered the end of other private local economies and that was simply unjust. While there is merit to that argument still, the data collected about Starbucks specifically over the last few decades is showing a different picture. Starbucks, rather than being a threat to other small coffee shops, can provide a standard by which private shops can distinguish themselves against and actually indirectly benefit other local coffee shops. Don’t get me wrong. Starbucks doesn’t go out seeking to benefit other shops. A lot of the criticism against them has to do with their strong-arm tactics
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