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Support for Local Coffee Shops

| Thursday May 5th, 2005 | 7 Comments

delocator.gifTheir stock was recently dumped by Pax World Funds, and there’s no denying the impact that Starbucks’ 6,000+ stores have on the viability of locally-owned coffee shops. Finishing School empowers coffee addicts to avoid Starbucks with the Delocator, a searchable database of independent cafés. Enter a zip code to find local coffee houses; Starbucks stores in the region are displayed alongside.
Your favorite java joint isn’t listed? Go ahead and add it! The participatory site encourages users to contribute to the growing database of Starbucks alternatives. (Via Ethical Marketplace anchor Simran Sethi)


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  • http://www.thoughtsonthings.com Nick Aster

    You know, ironically, I think Starbucks is partly responsible for the rise in numbers of local coffeeshops, not a decline… aside from a few bohemian ghettos, there were no european style coffeeshops in most of the US until Starbucks came along, now they’re everywhere, both chain and otherwise. I certainly do prefer my local coffeshop, and tend to seek out local shops when I travel, but I’m not above the occasional trip to Starbucks, and I think they get more demonized than they deserve.

  • http://www.odograph.com odograph

    I think I’d go for a service that gave me the best local coffee … thing is, in some places that is Starbucks.
    BTW, how big will Peets have to get before it is evil?

  • http://sustainablog.blogspot.com Jeff at sustainablog

    I think Starbuck’s does get a tougher rap than they often deserve: they treat their employees pretty well (my step-daughter’s worked there on and off for several years, and they have great benefits available to all employees), and they were the first chain to sell fair trade coffee, if my memory serves me right. I do like my local shops also (one of which I added to the Delocator), and support them primarily, but I do visit Starbuck’s every now and then. I certainly don’t consider them on par with chains like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart (which I never patronize).

  • Elizabeth U

    There’s a reason why SRI funds invest in Starbucks: they are quite an admirable company in many ways, a few of which Jeff pointed out. (Note: McDonald’s and Wal-Mart used to be in a few of the SRI funds in my portfolio, too.)
    I’m a big advocate of VARIETY. We need a variety of solutions if we hope to build a more sustainable economy. Unlike some folks out there, I’m psyched every time a huge multi-national company does something to improve their social and environmental impact. I don’t think they’re going to go anywhere anytime soon; I’d rather they get better than worse!
    AND I celebrate the diversity of solutions that the tiny independent companies who are totally committed to sustainability bring to the mix. And then there are all the inspiring things that are happening in the companies of all sizes inbetween. I’m convinced that monocultures are risky whether we’re talking about food crops, coffee shops, solutions, or ____________ (fill in the blank).
    Which is why projects like the Delocator are so fascinating: they add to the range of choices.

  • http://sustainablog.blogspot.com Jeff at sustainablog

    I’m convinced that monocultures are risky whether we’re talking about food crops, coffee shops, solutions, or ____________ (fill in the blank).

    That’s one of the most important concepts we have to keep pushing, as “monoculturalism” tends to creep into our own solutions. That’s one of the main reasons I’m still fairly cynical about multinationals taking small steps towards environmental and social improvement — they’re still based in a model of monoculture. True, they’re not going away, but until I see some radical changes (and I don’t think recycled napkins are particularly radical), I’m still going to stay away from McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. Quite frankly, I wish the big SRI funds would, too…

    I’m getting off on a tangent — feel free to spank me down…

  • Elizabeth U

    Just for the record, I don’t consider myself a pusher of concepts (or anything for that matter). I do, however, believe that showcasing alternatives is an important step in empowering people to make choices according to their own values.
    Speaking of steps… or rather, incremental improvements, I’ll adjust the old adage a bit to ask: Is the Perfect the Enemy of the Good?
    “Perfect” visions are important, as are cutting-edge solutions based on the best knowledge we have available. In the meantime, because mobs of people DO patronize McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and Starbucks, something as insignificant as increasing the post-consumer waste content of the napkins can make a significant difference in a variety of ways: amount of material diverted from landfills; demand, production volume, and market price for recycled napkins; consumer awareness about environmental matters if the napkins are printed with recycled symbols and number of trees saved…
    Meanwhile, imagine a hypothetical worker-owned cooperative that makes products from 100% post-consumer waste, with 10% of profits going to a youth employment training program in the community, and few people even finding out about the product, much less purchasing it.
    Rather than debate which of the above models is “better” (again, I believe they all play a critical role), I’d love to see people asking themselves what solutions they feel most passionate about, and then applying themselves there. Not everyone is happy working with multinational corporations, nor is everyone happy working with startup organizations doing unprecedented, radical things. Thank goodness there are options!
    (One of these days I’ll get on my soapbox about the role I believe SRI funds are playing… Jeff, I hope you’ll forgive me for ignoring your comment for now!)

  • Truth Man

    Starbucks is taking over america and soon it will be the world. Buy stocks now if you want to make some fast money. I just purchased an 1/8 of the company through stocks. In the words of Dave Chappele,”I’m rich b&%ch!”