Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Growing Pains

Welcome to Evanston, Wyoming: future sight of the first free-standing Starbucks in the entire state.

I verbally rejoiced when Bud brought the news from the planning office, where he'd been waylaid by Duwayne (who has no respect for personal space). Wi-fi! Coffee after 6:00 p.m.! A real, true Starbucks within 45 miles. I can hardly believe it.

His next revelation curbed my enthusiasm. Starbucks will be making itself at home on two small empty lots right next to his mother's Front Street house, the one she's lived in for 54 years. Mary is not excited about getting a Starbucks right next door. She wasn't excited about the expansion of Front Street that lopped ten feet off her front yard, or the Maverick service station, McDonald's, and Wal*Mart that moved in right across the street, either, but there was nothing she could do. There's not much she can do about Starbucks, either.

I am witnessing the awkward stage of a western town getting too big for its rural britches. On the one hand, I'm excited about all the new businesses riding the wave of the oil boom into town. On the other hand, I mourn for the people who remember playing ball in a field that is now a parking lot and the old timers getting squeezed out by insatiable developers unwilling to pay what residential properties are worth. Also, I'm worried that the eventual (inevitable) bust will leave Evanston burdened with the empty husks of abandoned commercial properties.

I'm a rabid advocate of Main Street, so I would certainly feel guilty while purchasing a Caramel Macciato at the new Starbucks. (In point of fact: had I not gotten the job at the plant and discovered that I love nearly everything about water treatment, I would almost certainly be working on a degree in Historic Preservation, and I may yet.) Starbucks, like Wal*Mart, is not conducive to healthy urban renewal. However, I find it almost painful to leave Kate's at 10:00 p.m. and walk up Main past the darkened windows and locked doors of our locally-owned-and-operated coffee shop (in the historic Blyth and Fargo building), which never seems to be open when I need a latte or, even more importantly, just a place to go with my laptop. I am not going to start haunting the Flying J Travel Plaza just because I need stimulation.

So here I am, straddling the fence, unsure whether to laugh or cry, and it strikes me that this is just another symptom of the acute ambivalence that distorts my own character, and really, the face of the nation. Like the restless California CEO shopping for a vacation home in unspoiled wilderness, I want to have my cake and eat it, too. I want everything at once, the best of both worlds, the rhyme and the reason, the mountains and the shore. We Americans want it all.

Tonight I want time to stop in quirky, provincial, stodgy, affable Evanston as if it were a living museum, so that people may always know what life was like in a small turn-of-the-century town poised between Old West and Cosmopolitan. In the morning I'll want a Venti White Chocolate Mocha with cleverly marketed sprinkles, steaming in a foam cup printed with the logo seen the world over as a symbol of that distinctly American commercial luxuriance.

We're getting a Starbucks. Imagine! Rock Springs is going to be so jealous.


Blogger Shepcat said...

I am a regular supporter of independent coffeehouses, but I do purchase my whole beans at Starbucks (for one thing, I'm riding a wave of gift cards and haven't paid for coffee in, like, a year and a half) and I drop in for the occasional latté or two.

While I'm perfectly content to view Starbucks as a symptom of the evils of corporate America, so far they haven't allowed that to compromise their product, which is still top notch, and in some cases (including here in K.C.), their presence has actually been a boon rather than the ruin of independents in the neighborhoods where they open, while Barnes & Noble has run a lot of indie booksellers out of business.

(Word verification: "ahtikcht."

God bless you.)

January 31, 2006 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger A said...

I'll withhold my judgment then until I get a feel for how they affect us. We filched the proposed drawings from the planning office this morning, and I gotta say, it doesn't look good. I won't take the chance of spilling details on the Internet, but it's a lot of stuff to put on a tiny space.

Turns out Bud's mom is either not upset about it at all or pretending she isn't so he doesn't try to talk her into selling. (He wouldn't.)


February 1, 2006 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger a572mike said...

YOU SUCK!! (as Adam Sandler would say) A real Starbucks in Evanston?? I'll bet it will even be one of the new Drive Through stores too... We have a bistro here in Cody that has a license to serve Starbucks Coffee and they have a limited list as such, but they're only open from like 9 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon! Same with the other lame coffee houses here. If you want good coffee in the evening, you're making it yourself.

I gotta agree with Shepcat, as much as I like Starbucks, I do still like to patronize the independent coffee houses... BUT, it has been my experience that those establishments that bitch and moan about the Starbucks across the street usually aren't worth a @#$%! to begin with. The great thing about Starbucks is that no matter where you go, whether it's a store in SEA-TAC, Billings MT, Ft. Collins CO, Los Gatos CA, or even anti-coffee SLC, the product is always good, and always satisfying. CONSISTENCY! Now if I could still get my ex-girlfriends 30% employee discount...

February 1, 2006 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger A said...

Hah, hah (in my best Ralph Wiggum voice)- it IS the drive-thru variety. And it's true what you say about rural independents: they have you right where they want you, so they operate at their discretion, which means NEVER when you want it.

OMG, you dated one of those?! Did she by any chance make it into the "Girls of Starbucks" Playboy spread last summer? That was hilarious. (Of course I read it for the articles. I glance through my brother-in-law's copy every once in a while. Shel Silverstein was once a frequent contributor, the game review is essential, and The Advisor is freaking hilarious.)

February 1, 2006 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger a572mike said...

How ironic you mention that... Sheclaims to have submitted some photos for it, but that was before I met her... Let's just put it this I just miss her for her discount... ;)

February 1, 2006 at 9:51 PM  

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