Why Starbucks actually helps mom and pop coffeehouses:
Ever since Starbucks blanketed every functioning community in America with its cafes, the one effect of its expansion that has steamed people the most has been the widely assumed dying-off of mom and pop coffeehouses. Our cities once overflowed with charming independent coffee shops, the popular thinking goes, until the corporate steamroller known as Starbucks came through and crushed them all, perhaps tossing the victims a complimentary Alanis Morrisette CD to ease the psychic pain. In a world where Starbucks operates nearly 15,000 stores, with six new ones opening each day, isn't this a reasonable assumption? How could momma and poppa coffee hope to survive? But Hyman didn't misspeak—and neither did the dozens of other coffeehouse owners I've interviewed. Strange as it sounds, the best way to boost sales at your independently owned coffeehouse may just be to have Starbucks move in next-door.
Admittedly, it doesn't sound that strange at all - it just sounds unintuitive
. This is an interesting look at the complexity of market forces, and ultimately highlights our own limitations as market analysts, when the only resources we use is our logic.
On a more general note, it shows that without research - specifically, research that does not make logical presumptions as a basis - we're doomed to inefficiency and waste as a species. This is why R&D is good. This is why the tiny amount of federal money given to the NSF and NEA, for example, is dismal and horrendous.