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Cities Need More Starbucks, Not CityTargets

Opposition often accompanies Starbucks' expansion plans. That's the case near my Santa Monica neighborhood where the company has a deal in place with the city and developers to take over a major corner, consisting of a vacant space and a lot that has housed a florist for decades.

I talked to the owner of the florist last week. He has been at the location for about 25 years. When I asked what was going on about all he could tell me is that "it's all about the money," rubbing his thumb along his index and middle fingers.

One day he came to work and that city planning notice was taped to the window. He was/is on a month-to-month lease. Starbucks swooped in. There was nothing he could do. And, as much as I appreciate the presence of local business in the community where I live, I gotta say the neighborhood will be better off with Starbucks at 11th and Wilshire, not the passive florist.

There are a handful of factions at work in Santa Monica and other cities like it. Some want to preserve Santa Monica in a mausoleum. They want it to be what it was 10 years ago, ignoring all of the positive change of the last decade.

Then you have the folks responsible for making the Santa Monica/Venice corridor "Silicon Beach." There are tons of startups locating here. And plenty of great local businesses. The type of people who help drive 21st Century economies live and want to live here now. A florist on the corner, as nostalgic as it might make some of us feel, does very little to contribute to this progress. Little to add to the vibrancy that draws Richard Florida's Creative Class to a place.

We expect to see people walking around cities with Apple (AAPL - Get Report) gadgets, not Sony (SNE) Walkmans. Things change. As they should. As they must.

Starbucks will bring something to the corner of 11th and Wilshire that the florist does not and a CityTarget simply cannot (there's not enough space for starters). It brings something that this new generation of residents wants, expects and will support.
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