Starbucks with drive through approved for washington street
by brian e. clark
On Thursday, The Planning and Zoning Committee approved a plan for a Starbucks with a Drive Through to be built on the old Computer Tune & Lube Site in the Home Depot Plaza, on Washington Street. I’ll warn you now, I’ve been vehemently against this plan from the beginning, and I still am not, so if you don’t want to read why this an absolutely terrible idea, stop now, have a good day, and a pleasant tomorrow.
The reasons I am against Starbucks, on Washington Street, or anywhere for that matter, Oh, let me count the ways! Starbucks, for one, has a terrible product line, and have questionable business practices, at best. They also, do have some good benefits for the full-time workers there, but the key word is, “full-time”. In any Starbucks location, the number of full- time employees can be counted on one hand. And then there is the Big Box Store Effect, that comes right along with them, and all of the negativity that comes with that. Middletown, specifically, has for decades, been known for our small local coffee houses, and shops.
Now, I write on this aspect of this story because I am personally familiar with the owners of two downtown Coffee Houses, that have been here in Middletown, for over two decades. I’ve come to know the way these businesses operate, and how close to the profit margins they actually are. Here’s a clue: They certainly don’t do it to be rich. They do it because it’s a passion they believe in with their whole heart. I’ve seen countless times where the owners are actually sorrowful for having to raise the price of a cup of coffee 20 cents, because their costs have been raised. These are the people that make up the fabric of our society. They are our community. And they’ve always known, that a Starbucks would be a death sentence. Well, the death warrant has just been signed.
I’m all for bringing business in to Middletown, but never at a cost of some other business, or businesses. People may say, in this case, what about Dunkin Donuts? There is a clear difference between what Dunkin Donuts brings to the table, and what Starbucks brings to the table. Starbucks brand promotes the image of a cozy coffee house setting, and titles their workers, “Barista’s”, and specializing in Espresso, and specialty blends of coffee. Dunkin Donuts brands themselves as a Fast Food Coffee & Donut Shop, and there’s a market for that, they they have cornered, and they do quite well at it. The fact is, The Barista Companies, who own the Franchises of Dunkin Donuts in Middletown, stand to take a loss of business as well with a Starbucks centrally located as it is planned.
In the end, we are selling the Fishing Boat, for a Fish. This one business will infect the business community of Middletown, and slowly kill off all of the small coffee houses that have invested so very much in to the City of Middletown. I myself am a small business owner, and I knew from the inception of my business that I may be able to operate around Middlesex County, but there is no way I can afford to register my business in this City, or State. Being that I operate completely on line, I have the option of registering in a different state, and I fully intend on doing so. Investing in a small business these days, isn’t even a risk anymore, it’s a gamble. With an administration that is so quick to sell out any industry that works for them, that’s a gamble I am not willing to accept.
I’ll finally end with this: Throughout this whole process of Starbucks going before P & Z, I have been very blunt about how I feel about it, and I have disagreed with some, gained supporters, and listened to some people lose their minds. I don’t regret anything I said, because it’s how I feel, and I won’t apologize for that. The truth hurts. That, I’ve come to learn. But this country needs a healthy dose of the truth, because we have been pampered and lied to so much, that everything offends us. So, if you made it this far in the article, and still don’t agree, hey, that’s ok! We don’t have to agree on everything, so long as we don’t lose out f-ing minds in the process.