October 6, 2006 - Coffee Bean Field Wars
If Edhat is anything, it's repetitive. Hey, this is a small town. There just aren't that many issues to explore. One of our issues of late is that local merchants have been closing down shops faster than you can say, "Starbucks Caramel Macchiato". Our article last week, where we asked subscribers to tell us what businesses they miss the most, was the all-time most emailed-to-a-friend article in the history of Edhat. It's hard to say which we lost more of this summer, News-Press employees or local merchants.
But the press got the press. There haven't been any "Save the Local Merchants" rallies at De La Guerra Plaza. And, the Union hasn't stepped in to unionize mom and pop.
We shudder to think of all the businesses that have been shuttered. Yesterday, it was a production line putting up For Lease signs across the street from the Art Museum. You wonder why they put up those signs, considering the likely leaser is going to be someone sitting in a 40-story tall office building staring at market research studies and demographic analyses. And in case you're new to town, the tallest building around here is only eight stories high.
The mantra of the local merchants as far back as we can remember has always been, "Buy Local". And the fact that so many places have been closing must be an indicator that people around here are buying elsewhere – places like Costco, Home Depot, Staples, and Sports Authority … and Starbucks, of course.
Yesterday morning, Ed directed the dedicated staff of edhat.com to take a morning stroll down State Street with scheduled visits to all of the coffee shops along the way.
And when we stopped to smell the coffee, all we had to do was count the number of customers in the store.
It was 9:20AM when we started our walk. At our first stop, the Starbucks on the corner of Victoria and State, we ran into a friend who didn't take nicely to our anti-Starbucks sentiment. If you boycott Starbucks, then you have to boycott Vons, Ralphs, and Longs, he told us. If they put their foot down, most men would starve. Our friend also told us that this coffee shop (23 people) would be the most crowded in town.
As it turned out, Starbucks were not the most crowded ones at all. The most crowed places were local ones – Coffee Cat (41 people) and Santa Barbara Roasting by THE 101 (40 people).
So, people do buy local after all!
Well, we had way too much caffeine not to notice the clouds in our coffee. If local people are in fact patronizing local businesses, then why are local businesses dropping like the flies in the pastry case at Santa Barbara Roasting? There are two other groups of consumers in town; one called tourists, and the other called very wealthy people - those who are little less cautious when it comes to opening up their wallets. Maybe, we thought, maybe the song isn't about us. Maybe the buying habits of us locals are not as important to local economy we think they are.
In yesterday's contest, many subscribers said Daily Grind or Coffee Bean and Tea, both on de la Vina - places that neither Ed nor the dedicated staff considers being downtown. In other words, we didn't count there. Of all the subscribers who guessed Coffee Cat, John_Monica guessed the highest number for people in the coffee shop. John_Monica wins an Edhat t-shirt, which by the way allows the wearer to get free milk and sugar with any coffee purchase at any place in town.
Click here to see a cool bar chart showing the complete count and the amount of the places we visited.
We want to hear from you ... read/post comments on this article
Want to get instant fame and cool prizes? ... enter today's contest