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I see Starbucks….

August 18th, 2003 · No Comments

Our island coffee clash made it into an article in the Seattle Times today, front page of the Local section, no less.

“For years, Starbucks tried to find its way onshore. For years, public sentiment rebuffed its efforts. Today, the island concedes.
With a predawn whoosh of a new steam machine, employees will begin serving Starbucks coffee drinks at a 15-foot kiosk inside the island’s lone Safeway.”

I liked this description of the island, very true:

Bainbridge Island, a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, is home to half a dozen stoplights, groves of cedars, lush forests and tree-framed vistas where snowy peaks meet big sky. It is also a place where doors are seldom bolted, U-cut flower gardens operate on the honor system, and milkmen still deliver.

But this next paragraph is true also:

People talk in shorthand about the day 14 years ago when McDonald’s opened along the two-lane highway. Residents who picketed outside Safeway when it opened a decade ago still refuse to shop there.

Drive on Highway 305 from the ferry dock across the island and over the bridge to Poulsbo. In Poulsbo you’ll find several national fast food franchises visible from the road- I think I counted about eight myself today. But in Bainbridge you won’t see any – unless you look carefully at the first stop light, to the right, where the lone McDonald’s is – sans large golden arches and playground, with subtle wooden signs instead.

When I first moved here, I found it strange that the island had so few while Poulsbo had so many – yet the population of Bainbridge is three times its neighbor. I’ve heard and read that the city has now zoned it so that the only place a fast food restaurant could be is the very space now taken by the McDonald’s. It has indeed been a great contention here on the island. A prospective Papa Murphy’s sued the city but then never came after settling out of court. We were living here on the island when the pizza place tried to come, and also during Starbucks’ previous attempt. And I’ve heard about the Safeway tensions, and seen bumper stickers for its neighbor Rite Aid : Rite Aid Wrong Town.

While I like the local shops, and frequent island stores as much as possible (rarely going to any McDonald’s anywhere anyway) I do appreciate Safeway and Rite Aid. They also have their place. In an isolated small town, it is nice to have options, and some items are only carried by the big chains. Once I had a discussion with a neighbor about how we each buy non-perishables at Safeway but go to the locally-owned market for fresh produce and meat. I think the marketplace will prove the challenge. People will choose to shop at the best place, franchise or not. I love to go to the Winslow Hardware and Winslow Paint Company rather than the island Ace or more-distant Home Depot, because their service is excellent, prices reasonable, and they take the time to care for me. That’s what business is, not whether it has a neon sign or a national logo.

For me, and for our family, the coffee war specifically is not an issue since we don’t drink the stuff. In fact, I think that the placement of this article next to the Times’ coverage of the annual Hempfest is an curious juxtaposition. A friend of mine calls coffee her “drug of choice”. Some drugs are legal and some are not. And now you can buy some at Starbucks on Bainbridge Island…..
…I’ll see it when I go pick up my chocolate at Safeway 🙂

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