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View Poll Results: Two part question - Answer each part without looking at your neighbor's paper.
Part 1 - Would you be more or less likely to visit a tourist destination if it had no chains and all local businesses? 5 14.71%
Much more likely 10 29.41%
A little more likely 6 17.65%
Wouldn't make a difference 15 44.12%
A little less likely 2 5.88%
A lot less likely 0 0%
Part 2 - In the long run, would banning national chains help or hurt a local economy? 5 14.71%
It would help a lot 3 8.82%
It would help a little 3 8.82%
It wouldn't make a difference 6 17.65%
It would hurt a little 9 26.47%
It would hurt a lot 8 23.53%
Part 3 Bonus Question - Would you rather know how to play a trombone or a french horn? 4 11.76%
Trombone 14 41.18%
French Horn 7 20.59%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-13-2013, 10:53 AM  
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Banning Chain Stores - Should A City Do It?

I was in a tourist-type town this week on business, and I have a general policy. I won't spend my money in a chain restaurant. It really annoys me for some reason to go into a resort town and see a bunch of Bubba Gump restaurants or chain steakhouses or Chili's or Starbucks. Yeah, that's why people go on vacation, so they can eat at the same restaurant that's a mile from their house.

So anyway, I generally try to support small business, and I'll always take a local restaurant over a chain if possible. To be honest, my practice isn't as good with hotels because the quality difference is often large, but I'll always go for the local restaurant if I can.

But I really wonder about the impact of chains on local communities. Whether it's a hotel or a restaurant or a Wal-Mart or a Trader Joe's, local people spend their money there and the profit immediately gets on a stagecoach out of town to corporate heaquarters.

One argument is that chains can be cheaper for the locals, and I have no doubt that Wal-Mart is cheaper than a local store. But if you consider that Wal-Mart pulls money consistently out of the community, I wonder if the community and its locals would be better off paying a little bit more and having their own businesses thrive, which gives them more money to spend.

Are there any cities that have banned national chains? How has that worked out? If I was on a city council I'd strongly consider it. And I think it goes double for a tourist-dependent town. You go on vacation to shake things up, and I wonder if tourism will decline in the long term if every tourist town eventually becomes a strip of La Quinta, Starbucks, and Applebee's.

Thoughts?
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:38 AM   #16
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I think chain stores are in these towns for the same reason the Sonic's and McDonald's are there - to give the tourist an option of home while they're away.

Now, should they be banned? You could make a compelling argument. But most likely the town would suffer becasue people are simple enough to say "I hear Such and Such is a great getaway destination, but there just isn't any convienient places to shop if we just need a few things."

Not saying that opinion is right, just saying that's generally how people think.

I can certainly see that argument, and I agree that people often don't mind seeing a familiar face or logo when they're in a new place. It's one advantage that chains do offer.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:41 AM   #17
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:41 AM   #18
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Wal-Mart is kind of a different animal in this discussion. I think a lot of communities dislike Wal-Mart, and not just because they're a chain. If I was a local leader I'd definitely keep Wal-Mart out of my town.
Wow! I never figured you to do something like this.

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The challenge with Wal-Mart in rural areas is that it has two impacts. It kills your own local merchants, which is bad for your city. But if Wal-Mart comes to your town it also kills all the local merchants in other nearby cities. That sales tax then comes to your town and helps the local government.
If it kills local merchants it means they did not offer goods at the best prices.

Sales taxes are usually implemented by state govts state wide.

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So the local government is in a spot. Do they take Wal-Mart and help themselves while killing businesses, or do they stop it, in which case it could go to a nearby city and still kill your businesses while giving your town no benefit? It's a tough situation. You really just want Wal-Mart to leave your whole region alone.
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt would help. So many economic fallacies here.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:42 AM   #19
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People must love them then, or it wouldn't have grown like that.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:42 AM   #20
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I'd be pissed if my town didn't have a Wal Mart.

It's indispensable.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:54 AM   #21
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I would imagine the votes already in. People have voted with their dollars by spending money in these establishments.
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Originally Posted by BucEyedPea View Post
Let the free market decide, which it will. This is central planning even if at a local level. However, t'is their right if the citizens of that locale desire that as part of their zoning.

I didn't see any chains in historic Williamsburg but some chains in a tourist area serve a purpose. If a place is overrun with them, people will stay away, depending on the type of tourism it lures.
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Why do you want to punish firms for being successful? You are saying we need to shut down profitable businesses just because you personally find them distasteful. How do you justify that?

Who wants to eat at TGIF in Times Square? Obviously lots and lots of people do or it wouldn't be there! Let the market work.

It's a valid point that the chains are there and making money. In the short term, people like them. But people make lots of short term decisions that are bad for them in the long run.

Let's talk tourist towns first.

My argument in that case is that, in the long term, people go on vacation because they want to experience a different environment. That's by definition what a travel vacation is. In the short run they'll eat at the chains, but in the long run they lose an experience by doing so. For me, I'll say, "Wow, that Thai restaurant in Seattle was amazing", or "Do you remember the key lime pie we had in Key West?" If they're eating at Applebee's, they make one less psychic connection to the destination, and in the long run some people will separate and move on to a new destination. This costs the town money.

In local communities, it's more diffuse. In a local community, a chain isn't really a chain. It's a local store, because ... well ... it's a store and it's local. So it's not like you need to build a connection with it. However, every time you spend $20 there, $2 of that leaves the town, never to return (other than maybe stockholder dividends, but let's not go there at this point). When your sales and property tax goes up because the school needs money or the roads have potholes, you don't say, "Hey, I bet this is because I'm spending money at a chain", but that may well be the reason (unless you're in Adams County, Colorado, in which case it's because of corruption).

The bottom line is that there's a much bigger ecosystem than just "you pick, you buy, you eat", but it's hard to see.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:54 AM   #22
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I live in a heavy tourist area that has local beach restaurants, boutiques and local attractions but also many Walmarts, Walgreens and CVS'es in certain areas not as close to the beaches but also not too far either. I really didn't care for all the chain restaurants on the main highway when I first moved here, but eventually found the local joints.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:56 AM   #23
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It's a valid point that the chains are there and making money. In the short term, people like them. But people make lots of short term decisions that are bad for them in the long run.
This smacks of elitism—that certain people know what is best for others. A free market is a place where each individual gets to do their own valuing. Not someone imposing it down from the top on them—say as some govt officials, bureaucrats or intellectuals.

Quote:
Let's talk tourist towns first.

My argument in that case is that, in the long term, people go on vacation because they want to experience a different environment. That's by definition what a travel vacation is. In the short run they'll eat at the chains, but in the long run they lose an experience by doing so. For me, I'll say, "Wow, that Thai restaurant in Seattle was amazing", or "Do you remember the key lime pie we had in Key West?" If they're eating at Applebee's, they make one less psychic connection to the destination, and in the long run some people will separate and move on to a new destination. This costs the town money.

In local communities, it's more diffuse. In a local community, a chain isn't really a chain. It's a local store, because ... well ... it's a store and it's local. So it's not like you need to build a connection with it. However, every time you spend $20 there, $2 of that leaves the town, never to return (other than maybe stockholder dividends, but let's not go there at this point). When your sales and property tax goes up because the school needs money or the roads have potholes, you don't say, "Hey, I bet this is because I'm spending money at a chain", but that may well be the reason (unless you're in Adams County, Colorado, in which case it's because of corruption).

The bottom line is that there's a much bigger ecosystem than just "you pick, you buy, you eat", but it's hard to see.
So

BTW that's the kind of area I live in. I am very close to one of the top ten beaches in the world. This matter can be handled with local zoning where some chains are in a certain area and a more historic, beach or whatever area doesn't have them—except say for a drug store for essentials or emergency items.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:57 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Wonton Prejudice View Post
I'd be pissed if my town didn't have a Wal Mart.

It's indispensable.
It's indispensable because it killed all of the competing businesses. That's the plan.

If I'm Wal-Mart, I do this.

I'm making tons of money from my 5,000 other stores. So I go into a new town, I lower all of my prices below cost for five years, and I wait. My other stores can cover it, and the local businesses will one by one shut down. When they're all gone, I raise my prices high enough to make up the loss and more, and use it to fund the takeover of the next town.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:58 AM   #25
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I understand the argument to ban chains from tourist hot spots but the issue I see with that is how can you be certain that more local businesses will replace the chain stores? If a tourist town has 50 restaurants and half are chains, what happens when those disappear? Do you have 25 empty buildings or are you going to assume that 25 entrepreneurs will ride in on white horses and save the town? If you don't kick the chains out but instead prevent anymore from coming in you're preventing growth and job opportunities. It's much easier for a chain to open a store because of their financial standing. And the last thing... in today's society saving money is more important to many people than buying locally. I'm all for supporting small business but if you can't afford the prices, you're not gonna buy there.
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Old 04-13-2013, 11:59 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
It's indispensable because it killed all of the competing businesses. That's the plan.

If I'm Wal-Mart, I do this.

I'm making tons of money from my 5,000 other stores. So I go into a new town, I lower all of my prices below cost for five years, and I wait. My other stores can cover it, and the local businesses will one by one shut down. When they're all gone, I raise my prices high enough to make up the loss and more, and use it to fund the takeover of the next town.
Competition kills those who overprice their goods. That's not a bad thing in many people's eyes.
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:01 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by BucEyedPea View Post
Let the free market decide, which it will. This is central planning even if at a local level. However, t'is their right if the citizens of that locale desire that as part of their zoning.

I didn't see any chains in historic Williamsburg but some chains in a tourist area serve a purpose. If a place is overrun with them, people will stay away, depending on the type of tourism it lures.
I actually agree with you on this. I've seen areas that have banned chain stores because they believe there is a nice local, indie feel that makes it a good destination spot. I think it's completely up to the interests of the people or businesses in that area. People choose to live there, knowing that it will be harder to get a quick WalMart or Target run in.

I don't think chains are a bad thing, as long as they play by the same rules as everyone else. I don't like hearing about sweetheart deals that allow big chains to get incentives that small businesses can't get.
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:02 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
It's indispensable because it killed all of the competing businesses. That's the plan.

If I'm Wal-Mart, I do this.

I'm making tons of money from my 5,000 other stores. So I go into a new town, I lower all of my prices below cost for five years, and I wait. My other stores can cover it, and the local businesses will one by one shut down. When they're all gone, I raise my prices high enough to make up the loss and more, and use it to fund the takeover of the next town.
That is predatory pricing, and its illegal under our antitrust laws. Its also not even close to how Wal-Mart operates.
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:04 PM   #29
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This smacks of elitism—that certain people know what is best for others. A free market is a place where each individual gets to do their own valuing. Not someone imposing it down from the top on them—say as some govt officials, bureaucrats or intellectuals.
I don't think it's elitism. I'm not saying that I don't do the same thing. It's human nature, particularly when we don't step back and look at the long term.

I wouldn't necessarily think it's worth my tax dollars to build a superconducting supercollider or do human genome research if someone else didn't step back, look at the long-term, and educate me on it. And on a simpler level no one wore seat belts until they were educated on it. My goal on this issue is to point out the bigger impact that's hidden.
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:16 PM   #30
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It's indispensable because it killed all of the competing businesses. That's the plan.
I guess.

You're still not gonna find a mom and pop store with as much varied selection in consumer goods.

Sorry mom and pop. Open a donut shop. I'll buy your donuts over Wal Mart's shitty donuts for sure.

But I'm going to Wal Mart when I need to pick up a blu-ray, a new car battery, some ice cream bars and some underwear.
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