Comment 361

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2005 at 05:40:20

While unfortunate, this isn't surprising. I was always surprised Second Cup in Westdale was allowed to deviate from the corporate norm in the first place.

Corporations by definition aim to reduce variation across their operations. Their goal is to provide a consistent, predictable experience for customers regardless of location, so a hamburger in Hamilton looks and tastes the same as a hamburger in Albuquerque.

It's a unclear whether and to what extent this is shaped by customer demand for predictability or customer expectation has been shaped by corporate imperatives. Standardization makes it cheaper and easier for the corporation to run stores across a large geographic area; at the same time, customers clearly don't like to be surprised and often react negatively to change.

One thing is clear: it results in a soul-deadening blandness and sameness in our built environments - one strip plaza bookended with 7-11s and Taco Bells looks pretty much like any other. It also results in a food industry skewed to unhealthy, heavily processed stuff that can travel the continent in giant supply chains without spoiling.

To the extent that economies are ultimately governed by ecological principles (and the overwhelming evidence is that they are), this stamping out of complexity, diversity, and local adaptation, not to mention the massive inputs of non-renewable energy required to maintain continent-spanning supply chains, is bad news for our long-term economic prospects.

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