They’re truly freakin’ everywhere…

I never subscribed to the ultra-lefty (very California) attitude that giant corporations are sucking away our souls. (Who’s more obsessed with the capitalist machine, really — greedy CEOs who crush neighborhood competition, or lefties who seem to believe that our souls are inextricably bound to the dollars in our wallets? For the record, my vote goes to the people who believe you are defined by what you buy, or more accurately where you buy it.)

No, I appreciate the convenience that Home Depot and Best Buy and Starbucks and Barnes and Noble have brought into my neighborhood. There’s a reason I buy books at Barnes and Noble and not Brazos Bookstore: on any given trip, I’m about ten times as likely to find what I’m looking for at a vast corporate bookseller than an independent bookseller. Even at Barnes and Noble, I’m increasingly frustrated that I can’t find books I’ve read reviews of until a good six months after they’ve come out, and then only if they’ve made a best-seller list.

I almost exclusively purchase books online now, along with clothes and CDs. Of course, the downside to online shopping is that you have to wait for your merchandise. The real culprit in obliterating neighborhood shops is not corporations, but the belief in instant gratification they beget: having found what I want on the shelves at BN time and again, I get really frustrated if even they aren’t stocking what I want. I have become more and more impatient about having my needs satisfied immediately.

But let me get to the point… I am not one to rail against big corporations moving into a neighborhood, but I did see one of the first signs of the Apocalypse today: two Starbucks literally across the street from one another, both at the corner of Shepherd and W. Gray. I kid you not. I bought a chai at one and sat at the window watching people go in and out (and through the drive-through) of the one directly across the street. It seems impossible, but they were each doing reasonably steady business for late, rainy afternoon on a holiday. Supposedly, they have different clientele: one’s the “cool” crowd, and the other is for old people. You may now guess which one I was in (hint: it wasn’t the cool one). Craziness.

(NB: further for the record, since we’re being all confessional here, I am not generally in favor of giant corporations either. They screw their employees over, as anyone who knows my dad knows; they get ridiculous tax breaks from their cronies at all levels of government; and they are often not good neighbors to the communities in which they reside. However, neither do I believe that they sacrifice kittens in an attempt to make piles of cash. Drink some herbal tea on your Pottery Barn couch and calm down, you smug, hypocritical Kiwi stick insect.)

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