Comment of the Day: What Local Really Means

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT LOCAL REALLY MEANS “How can you explain that the TacoBell/KFC, Panda Express, Smoothie King, and Subway aren’t local? Each of these are owned by a franchise company which is local. Only a portion of the local money spent there go to the corporate parents and the rest remain with the franchise owner. This is also true for MOST McDonald’s, Starbuck, and pretty much every ‘casual’ dining establishment. Yes, they are national names, but locally owned.” [kjb434, commenting on The New Strip Centers Coming to Heights Blvd. and Other Details of the Washington Heights District West End Walmart Plan]

22 Comment

  • Starbucks is entirely corporate-owned. They are not franchised. Every Starbucks store is owned by the central corporation.

    Some Starbucks kiosks in hotels and airports are operated by third parties who have exclusive contracts with those facilities. However, these are not franchises.

    In addition, kjb434 is incorrect when he says that “most” casual dining establishments are locally-owned franchises. This is not the case. Maybe a small amount are owned by local entrepreneurs. More are owned by mid-sized corporations, often not local, which are in the business of operating franchises. In both of these cases, the shops themselves are often run by the central corporation, under a management contract.

    Yes, they hire local people and this contributes to the local economy. But really, I would rather support truly local entrepreneurs, not only because the businesses are locally-owned, but because the food is of higher quality.

  • You’re right about Starbucks being corporate-owned, however various franchises operate in very different ways. A brightline rule about them is hard to establish.

    And among local entrepreneurs, food quality also varies dramatically in every way (taste, healthiness, cleanliness). It’s fun to check out unique little businesses, no doubt about that. …but they’re no panacea.

  • Priscilla,

    Ever had Starbucks at Kroger? Starbucks doesn’t own those. It’s just Kroger employees making Starbucks coffee. Starbucks gets a fee for using their name.

    Check this out:

  • The Starbucks at Target is also not corporate owned

  • Franchises are not local. Even if they are across da street.

    Don’t waste your money.

  • Although the comment is slightly off in its citation of Starbucks, the general point he is making is spot-on. Locally-based franchisees are for all intents and purposes local businesses.

    Snobs who turn their noses up and refuse to ever patronize a locally-franchised restaurant are just as annoying as the poor souls who can’t seem to find their way to local establishments that not only run the business locally, but who also add to the city’s culture by offering locally created fare.

  • Yes, but Starbucks has public stock that I can buy. That’s even better than localy owned becuase not only rich small business owners can make a profit. Anyone who can muster the $24 required to buy a share of Starbucks can “localy own” part of Starbucks.

  • i don’t think this is an issue you can really debate much because there’s so many factors that skew the intent of keeping money local. people are free to choose where they spend their money and that’s all that matters.

    i’m cheap, so for me it’s about price. that means in the montrose/inner loop i mainly stick to national chains cuz they’re usually cheaper. it’s easy to stay local out in the cheaper parts of town.

    most chains are traded on the market these days and everybody is invested in them through their 401k’s and are part owners so it doesn’t matter much. i also wonder how many local business owners have made their money investing overseas, or working in law firms that specialize in frivolous lawsuits raising the cost of goods for others, outsourcing jobs, or got started with money from their rich friends in NYC, etc. i’m probably assuming the worst here to make a point, but not all local businesses are created equal and at least with national chains i can be a “local owner” too.

  • Gas stations are locally owned also… Oil companies don’t realy own any stations anymore. They are operated and franchised by local folks as a business. To say that franchises are not locally owned is ignorant. Virtually every McDonald’s in Houston is owned by someone here.

  • Jonathan wrote:
    Snobs who turn their noses up and refuse to ever patronize a locally-franchised restaurant are just as annoying as the poor souls who can’t seem to find their way to local establishments that not only run the business locally, but who also add to the city’s culture by offering locally created fare.
    I don’t eat at McDonalds and Burger king and Taco Bell and Chili’s, etc., not because they are national brands, but rather because they suck. Guess that makes me a snob.

  • PaxMcKatz has that right.

    A few station are owned by the national brands, but for the most part they are locally owned businesses. They also make very little money of the gas they sell. They make money off the convenience store and/or carwashes.

    The only larger chain that I know that does keep either ownership or a large stake in the stations is Valero. Since Valero is just a refining company and not an oil exploration company, there profit margin is extremely then. The pull in more money through the convenience stores they do own. At one point the owners of Valero considered selling the refining business and getting into just the gas station business. Valero is a Chorpus Christi area company which is at least local to the state.

  • RWB,

    If you don’t like the food, it doesn’t make you a snob. That’s just personal preference.

  • Let’s kill this argument:

    This is the 21st century. The developed nations of the Earth form an inseperable locality, and that is as true in the realms of high finance as it is in entertainment, shopping, or working. Embracing that idea (or at the very least, not rejecting it out of principle) is what will spur the next leap forward in human history. I’m talking about a second Age of Enlightenment.

    Wal-Mart is an agent of that change. By bringing such large nations as China and India into their own and intertwining their economies with numerous other developed natinos, Wal-Mart and other multinationals advance the interests of world peace.

    The greatest threats to that peace comes closed-minded individuals that staunchly advocate localism and protectionism. Although most of these people are well-intentioned, I think that they might actually be worse than Nazis. (There, I said it.)

  • Peace through capitalism. The same also goes for the elimination of poverty through free markets and capitalism.

    The lives of people have never been improved through the elimination of capitalism and international trade. Check eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and China. Luckily all three of these have changed course for the better.

  • Actually, highly protected markets can experience huge growth. That’s what happened in South Korea, which went from being one of the poorest nations on Earth to one of the richest in 50 years while practicing what to the U.S. seems like extreme protectionism (but encouraging exports). Which goes to prove once again that there is no one right way to do things as complex as economic systems.

  • I admit that I’m not especially familiar with S. Korean trade policy, however I do vaguely recall that it imports more smut per capita than any other nation on the planet, by a factor several times higher than the next closest country.

    In all seriousness though, a country that exports something forgoes the consumption of that export in exchange for a claim for goods from the importer in the form of that importer’s currency. If S. Korea does not ever redeem those claims, then they are essentially giving away exported goods for free. China is kinda-sorta doing this by manipulating their currency. It’s a good approach to rapidly modernizing an economy, however it would be just plain stupid to maintain that as policy forever (or for an already-developed country to adopt such a policy).

  • RWB may know this for sure, but South Korea isn’t necessarily a land with a wealth of resources. They maybe some ore to be mind for steel and some farm land, but much of the food and raw materials need to be imported. So S. Korea may make much of what the need and sell internally, the materials to make those goods had to come from somewhere else. Much of the steel Japan had used for the last 40 years has come from the U.S. as scrap metal.

    Also, S. Korea (just like Japan) was a major benefactor of the U.S. exports in manufacturing and technological know-how.

  • Saying that Taco Bell sucks might be the dumbest thing i’ve EVER READ IN MY LIFE.

    Just sayin. That shit is SO GOOD.

  • “Peace through capitalism. The same also goes for the elimination of poverty through free markets and capitalism.”

    Boy, what you been smokin to come up with shit like this?

  • history books is my guess

  • @markd: We should never forget or take for granted Rule of Acquisition #35. “Peace is good for business.” It’s true! When resources are diverted to guns, you can’t make as much butter. Likewise, business is good for peace; and so I am reminded of Rule #57: “Good customers are as rare as Latinum. Treasure them.”

    A corollary, however, is that when the military-industrial complex lobbies or otherwise influences a government to mobilize for war at the expense of free enterprise (because remember that war is the reallocation of resources to guns from butter), that is a usurpation of free-market capitalism.

  • unless it’s a world war. we got filthy rich after that since other industrialized nations were obliterated.

    more apt to the topic though:

    “the misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all” – joan robinson