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Wake up, smell coffee

How many coffee shops does Ashland need? How many Starbucks locations does Ashland need? Can’t Ashland just refuse to allow corporate businesses to open in town?

Those are just a few of the questions posed on social media regarding the new Starbucks planned for the former Umpqua Bank building at Ashland and Walker streets.

The answers are simple: Ashland “needs” as many coffee shops as the market will support. The same goes for Starbucks locations. The chain didn’t become the world’s largest coffee-house company, with more than 27,000 stores, by underestimating demand.

The answer to the final question? No. Ashland can’t pick and choose what kind of businesses it allows based on some arbitrary preference for “local” vs. “corporate.” As long as a business meets city requirements for zoning, signs, parking and the like, Ashland can’t simply refuse to allow it to open. That would invite a lawsuit accusing the city of treating otherwise equal businesses differently. A coffee shop is a coffee shop, regardless of ownership.

Yes, this new location is across the street from a locally owned coffee shop, and there are other local competitors.

The corner of Ashland and Walker is also just a short distance from Southern Oregon University, which should provide a steady supply of customers in need of caffeine and Wi-Fi.

Yes, Starbucks is a huge corporation, but as huge corporations go, there are worse places to work. Starbucks employees get decent wages, plus benefits even for part-time workers. Don’t like Starbucks? Don’t buy their coffee.

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