I live in a very centrally located neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. I’m within a 15 min walk to just about anything – movie theatres, hospitals, schools, universities (two of them), shopping malls, you name it. There are at least four 24h grocery stores within two block of my appartment. The only thing that I don’t like about where I live is that there are no independent coffee shops close by. The closest thing is an Italian cafe at the Manulife Centre, a good 10 min walk away. There are plenty of chains though – Second Cup, Starbucks, Timothys, Lettieri are all around within a block. I’ve given up having espresso-based coffees in any of those places since none of them do a half-decent job. Lettieri is the less bad of all of them and occasionaly I’ll have a macchiato there.
To get my coffee fix, I go to Kensington on saturdays. It’s my therapy and my refuge from coffee-chain land. So, you can imagine my surprise and annoyance when I found out this week that Starbucks wants to open a store right in the middle of the market. Please. Give me a break. It’s not the place for it. But then neither is Paris or Barcelona but somehow they made it in. And it all comes down to landlords wanting to be greedy. A spot opened up in the market and what do they do? Well, apparently they don’t really want to have to spend money with renovations but want to charge 5,000$/month rent for a small store. Who can afford that? Only big corporations.You’ll see the resident’s response to that here.
One of the things that make me really sad when I travel these days is to witness the corporatization of businesses everywhere. North American urban centres and malls (and many rural shopping centres too!) look exactly like any other urban centre and malls anywhere else in North America. This trend is even getting to Europe where a shopping street in 15th arrondissement in Paris looks exactly like a shopping street in Barcelona. A friend of mine was having a baby shower here in Toronto and since I went to Paris in the spring, I decided to buy a gift there – I thought it would be nice to have a little outfit from a local baby store and it was kind of fun to go shopping for baby clothes in a foreign city. I got really disappointed when I got home and found out that the particular French store I shopping in has a store here in Toronto. What’s the point? I think all this homogeneization only stiffles creativity and tolerance for anything that is different.
Sorry for the rant.
PS: apparently Second Cup opened a store in the market a few years ago but it didn’t last very long…