• We're a fun, friendly, and diverse group of planners, placemakers, students, and other folks who found their people here. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! Use your email address, or register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Cities put shackles on chain stores

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,343
Points
46
As seen in USA TODAY; Tuesday July 20, 2004; page 3A
http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20040720/6378414s.htm

Highlight from Aricle:

The backlash against chain or ''formula'' stores of any size is fueling regulations to stop national chains from moving into the heart of urban shopping districts. Some towns are limiting the number of chain restaurants and retail stores. Others are setting strict size and design requirements to keep out cookie-cutter stores. A few are banning them outright.

''There's an anti-chain-store instinct,'' says Jim Schwab, senior research associate at the American Planning Association, a group that represents local planners. ''And it's not strictly a big-box issue.''

Very Interesting Reference
Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance
( http://www.ilsr.org/ ), an advocacy group in Minneapolis, and author of The Hometown Advantage: How to Defend Your Main Street Against Chain Stores . . . and Why It Matters.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Mixed feelings here. For one thing-what is a "chain." I posted this a while back, but when Amoeba Records built a new store in the Haight District in San Francisco, local mom and pop hole-in-the-wall-never-have-anything-I-like shops complained that Amoeba, based across the bay in Berkeley and operating TWO other stores was an evil "chain." Feh on Stinky Hippy Records! I won't shop at a store offering only smooth jazz and 1968 folk lps.

Still, the vast combinations of capital that dominate American retail-and the resulting generica-does bother me quite a bit.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
I don't like corporate architecture, color schemes, signage, etc., but I don't really have a problem with chains existing. I choose not to frequent many though. Costco, Walgreens, and Target are my main exceptions(weakness.)
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
28
It is interesting. Does a ban on "chains" mean you can't have an Ace Hardware? or how about a Chevy dealer? Definitions become critical and complicated. I tend to lean a long way toward local control, so I am not opposed to communities doing this, but it is a real planning minefield.
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,283
Points
29
Marginal Land Uses

The big issues here are economic in nature (I think) and social.

The mom and pop stores appeal to our sense of place and history, whether growing up in small towns or big cities. However, they are in most cases marginal uses of property that may not bring in the big tax $$$.

Chain stores are an assault on our senses because they are not unique in either appearance or sales and are driven by corporate needs from outside of the community. But on the other hand they most likely provide higher paying jobs (relatively) and more of them. Once they appear on the scene in a retail district, game over for the mom and pops....higher rents/leases follow and impossible standards to keep up with.....
 

magmae

Member
Messages
14
Points
1
read 'going local'

The big problem with chains is besides usually being a nightmare of architecture locating on fringe locations that require an extension of services, dramatically increase traffic, and can jumpstart sprawl in former greenspace, the big thing for me is the lack of local connections to the place. One of the responses is right on - mom and pop stores contribute to a community's sense of place in a way a chain store never could. The wildfire of chain domination across the country has meant that shopping in Iowa is largely the same as shopping in Arizona or Florida. And that sucks for all of us. Local stores use local suppliers, keep their money in local banks, contribute to local events, and have a responsibility to give back to their community and do good. Chain stores, on the other hand, offer the same thing everywhere, immediately send all profits to an out-of-state bank, have their supplies shipped in from somewhere else, and can (and will) leave at the drop of a hat.

The best book I've found that gets into all of this is Michael Shuman's "Going Local." It's a must-read for people who care about truly LOCAL economic development.

----------------------------------
JNA said:
As seen in USA TODAY; Tuesday July 20, 2004; page 3A
http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20040720/6378414s.htm

Highlight from Aricle:

The backlash against chain or ''formula'' stores of any size is fueling regulations to stop national chains from moving into the heart of urban shopping districts. Some towns are limiting the number of chain restaurants and retail stores. Others are setting strict size and design requirements to keep out cookie-cutter stores. A few are banning them outright.

''There's an anti-chain-store instinct,'' says Jim Schwab, senior research associate at the American Planning Association, a group that represents local planners. ''And it's not strictly a big-box issue.''

Very Interesting Reference
Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance
( http://www.ilsr.org/ ), an advocacy group in Minneapolis, and author of The Hometown Advantage: How to Defend Your Main Street Against Chain Stores . . . and Why It Matters.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
magmae said:
The big problem with chains is besides usually being a nightmare of architecture locating on fringe locations that require an extension of services, dramatically increase traffic, and can jumpstart sprawl in former greenspace, the big thing for me is the lack of local connections to the place. One of the responses is right on - mom and pop stores contribute to a community's sense of place in a way a chain store never could. The wildfire of chain domination across the country has meant that shopping in Iowa is largely the same as shopping in Arizona or Florida. And that sucks for all of us. Local stores use local suppliers, keep their money in local banks, contribute to local events, and have a responsibility to give back to their community and do good. Chain stores, on the other hand, offer the same thing everywhere, immediately send all profits to an out-of-state bank, have their supplies shipped in from somewhere else, and can (and will) leave at the drop of a hat.

The best book I've found that gets into all of this is Michael Shuman's "Going Local." It's a must-read for people who care about truly LOCAL economic development.

----------------------------------
I'm going to play Devil's Advocate, because I don't like centralization of control and power, either. But, why does it "suck for all of us"? The fact that shopping in Forida is the same as shopping in Arizona has absolutely no impact on my quality of life or the quality of life of anyone who is not travelling from place to place.

Now, if you are talking specifics, like the stupidity of national hardware stores promoting English-style lawns in Arizona, then you have a point. But, the little mom-and-pop nurseries still sell impatiens and pansies and geraniums in Vacaville, too, along with Home Depot and Lowes. :)

I might also note that local control doesn't mean quality design. Many local businesses are relatively undercapitalized. As bland as McDonalds' are, for example, their stores are always immaculate-whereas Joe's Burgers is usually rusty metal seating, 1957 signs with the lights half burnt out, and no landscaping. I''ll take a photo tonight of my local hardware store. It has a certain kitschy charm, but beautiful architecture, it ain't!

We are long past the point of economic autarchy, with each town its own independent fiefdom. Read a history of Medieval/Renaissance Italy, or of the American South's Jim Crow era, and local control is not always good.

Don't get me wrong, I think Jim Kunstler is at least partly right, and I think others on this board make a seriously good point that mass industrial civilization is unsustainable. But, you cannot use platitudes and wishes to overcome overwhelming economic forces. Local economies will return-but they will certainly not provide the vast selection at (on the surface) cheap prices and convenience of today's economy.

Note that I agree with your preferences, frankly. I'll shop at the local hardware store over Home Depot any day (a lot better service for one thing, and you don't have to drive out to the damn freeway and walk two miles to find a can of paint). Starbucks? Meh. Why? I hate chain restaurants, in general.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
BKM said:
I hate chain restaurants, in general.
Ditto. Applebee's and Chili's have to be two of the worst restaurants but obviously millions of Americans don't think so.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
ludes98 said:
Ditto. Applebee's and Chili's have to be two of the worst restaurants but obviously millions of Americans don't think so.
That damn "Baby Back ribs" ad jingle makes me scream.
 

spokanite

Cyburbian
Messages
202
Points
9
ludes98 said:
Ditto. Applebee's and Chili's have to be two of the worst restaurants but obviously millions of Americans don't think so.
I totally agree. In your town's annual "BEST OF..." issue, how many times have you seen big box or chain stores as the local preference?

Last year's categories from my city:

Best Italian Food: Olive Garden
Best Espresso: Starbucks
Best Burger: Red Robin
Best Kids' Clothes: Gap Kids
Best Store the Inland Northwest needs -- Ikea

Ugh!

I do my best to "vote with my dollars" and support local places whenever I can, but my qualifiers for where I shop are probably not mainstream. I'm not as price sensitive because I'm shopping for only myself and not a family of 4 or 5.

Is this issue similar to the "outsourcing of white-collar American jobs" issue, but on a micro scale?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
spokanite said:
I
Is this issue similar to the "outsourcing of white-collar American jobs" issue, but on a micro scale?
Well, it certainly means a smaller local middle class/business owners class tied to a community.
 
Top