Friday, May 02, 2003

Happy belated May Day, everyone. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has a nitwitted letter by one Gretchen H. Klungness entitled "We don't need another Starbucks." In part it says, "While I realize that any company has a right to expand all over the world, I don't think it merits front-page coverage. Starbucks is a perfect example of corporate greed run amok, and your double coverage [the April 17 paper had a front-page article as well as a business-section feature] on the same day simply amounts to free advertising for a company that has put small shops out of business all over the country.

We need a Starbucks here in Hilo about as badly as we need another tsunami--and that would at least merit front-page coverage."

I'd refer Ms. Klungness to the April 29th New York Times, which has an article about the expansion of fast-food chains Subway and McDonald's into India. Corporate greed run amok? Think again. Both are "tailoring their menus to local tastes. Their offerings here, liberally flavored with Indian spices, bear little resemblance to the American originals..." Actually, I'd recommend this article to everyone: "McDonald's says that Indians are voting for the Golden Arches with their feet. More than two million are served in its 16 outlets in Bombay every month, the company says. "'Most new shopping malls clamor to have us,' Mr. Jatia said. Much of McDonald's effort has been devoted to building a local supply chain to support its stores here, including measures to keep produce fresh given India's tropical heat and sometimes-iffy electric power supply. Some 95 percent of its ingredients are now bought locally. With new stores to come in high-traffic locations like train stations and highway rest areas, McDonald's hopes its Indian operations will reach breakeven in 2004."

I don't have to tell you that chains aren't merely huge vacuums sucking money out of local economies. By hiring and buying locally, they in fact put much money back into the economy.