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Thread: Good chains, bad chains

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Good chains, bad chains

    On one blog I follow related to development and culture in my hometown, I noticed a certain pattern in the responses to articles whenever there was an announcement about a new location of a chain store or business, or when there was any discussion about chain businesses. In the minds of Buffalo's urbanatti, there's good chains and bad chains.

    Good chains include

    * Those based out of Buffalo and Rochester, no matter what the quality of the product or service is.
    * Canadian chains, which are all treated as local by default. Tim Horton's good, Dunkin' Donuts bad. Coffee Culture good, Panera Bread bad. A chain could be based out of British Columbia and still be seen as "local", compared to a chain based out of Cleveland or Pittsburgh.

    Bad chains include:

    * Anything not based out of Buffalo, Rochester or Canada.
    * Anything with a cult following ("Dinosaur Barbecue is overrated", "Trader Joe's is just a glorified Aldi", etc.), unless they're local (Wegmans, Mighty Taco, etc).

    Some chains seem to get a pass. Aside from local-by-proxy Canadian chains, there's a lot of love for Ikea (despite the lack of locations in Buffalo), and Penzey's Spices gets a pass from the cult chain hate.

    There's no opposition to local chains (Delta Sonic, Chocolate Bar, etc) expanding outside of the Buffalo area; this is seen as a good thing. However, the expansion of chains based in other cities into Buffalo is seen as undesirable,

    So, among the urbanatti and armchair planners in your town, how do they respond when there's talk of an out-of-town chain that may open up in a traditional urban neighborhood? Are they welcomed for the business they'll bring, or derided for not being local?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    In the larger Utah culture, people still get very excited when any national chain comes in. Utah was verging on collective orgasm when IKEA opened a store. It's kind of the opposite of what you describe in Buffalo. We like local stuff, sure, but SLC wants to be bigger than it is and has only a short history so they're excited by "recognized" things. That's essentially I think a difference in the west and east.

    When chains that are popular in California come in we also get very heady. Every Utahan wants to grow up to be a Californian.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

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    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    When the first In-n-Out locations opened here, we had a great opportunity to capture all the Californians in one easy spot, for subsequent deportation... Sadly the opportunity was lost. 6 months on, they have faded into just another fast food place.

    Texas has so many recent immigrants that that I don't think there's much regional like or dislike for anything. It's more a case of chains from home being sought after, like In-n-Out or HEB on the grocery side.

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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    A good chain is 66 feet. A bad chain is anything not 66 feet.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    A good chain is 66 feet. A bad chain is anything not 66 feet.
    Wait, is this thread about Gunter's chains?
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    A good chain is 66 feet. A bad chain is anything not 66 feet.
    That was my first thought about the thread title lol.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Can anyone post a link to the chain?

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    In the larger Utah culture, people still get very excited when any national chain comes in. Utah was verging on collective orgasm when IKEA opened a store. It's kind of the opposite of what you describe in Buffalo. We like local stuff, sure, but SLC wants to be bigger than it is and has only a short history so they're excited by "recognized" things. That's essentially I think a difference in the west and east.
    I wonder if it's because the Buffalo metro has been so "unchained" for so long, people fear the worst; they expect Elmwood Village, North Buffalo, Allentown or downtown to be filled with mall stores and crap-on-the-walls restaurant chains, squeezing out "authentic and real" local businesses. Elmwood Village has over 200 stores, and the only US-based national chains that can now be found among them are a Starbucks (which faced massive community opposition when it opened), Subway, Blockbuster Video, Rite Aid, 7-11, and a couple of gas stations. (No Macy's. )

    Buffalo, in a way, is like the Havana of the United States. It's been economically marginalized and isolated for so long, it developed a very unique collective culture that can't be found elsewhere. Its architecture was preserved because there was no demand for the land that sits underneath it, and its culture diverging from the nation around it because there was a lack of in-migration and immigration. Buffalo might have been "Anyplace USA" in 1950, not much different than Cleveland, Chicago or Detroit. Today, it's more like a New Orleans or Pittsburgh when it comes to being "different." I think the region's parochialism became entrenched, and with that a fear of change now that Buffalo is being "rediscovered." I think many in Buffalo see their city as being the "last great place", and feel that it's being threatened.

    When I lived in southern New Mexico, there was always excitement when a national chain announced they were coming to town. It was something of a "we're on the map now!" reaction.

    EDIT: I'm not the only one that makes the Buffalo-Havana comparison.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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