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Do you think Lawrence has a good balance of local and corporate businesses?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on December 9, 2004

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Photo of Meghan Boledovich

“Sort of. It’s getting more corporate. It’s pretty balanced now, but you see more and more chains popping up.”

Photo of Teresa Duncan

“From downtown things look pretty good, but we need to be careful not to let other areas of Lawrence become too corporate.”

Photo of Cristen Bates

“No. I was really disappointed to see so many corporate stores on the Best of Lawrence Web page. I would like to see more people support local businesses.”

Photo of Sam Parakhen

“Yes. I think that there is a good balance. A lot of people who live here work in surrounding cities. They bring outside money into the economy, so local stores can make enough money to survive.”

Comments

MyName 9 years, 4 months ago

With regards to the Sam Buck's coffeeshop story. It really has nothing to do with wanting to push around the little guy (or gal). The way trademarks work is if you don't defend them you can lose them. That's what almost happened to Xerox when people started using their name as a common verb. The company tried to make people stop using "Xeroxing" and start using "photocoping". If Starbucks doesn't defend their trademark, than they no longer have the right to sue people who legitimately rip their name off.

I sometimes think this was thought up by lawyers to drum up business.

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Jay_Z 9 years, 4 months ago

I feel for the local businesses, but I agree with Mister_Joe. It's a free country and why can't we have larger businesses move in and compete with the smaller businesses? The smaller businesses need to learn to become more efficient in order to compete and survive....we shouldn't protect them just because they were here first, and shouldn't protect them especially if they don't offer a better value to the consumer than a larger business could. This town is anti-industry/bigger business and I don't see any good jobs (those that require a college degree) being created in Lawrence anytime soon.

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Kookamooka 9 years, 4 months ago

I was just downtown shopping and can't tell you how disappointed I am with the Customer Service. I can't believe how self-centered some of the local businesses are. Not to say I get great service at big Corporate places but I don't expect it from them. I do expect a little more personal attention and accomodation from Mom and Pop. Some stores downtown do a great job of meeting my needs and I am happy to spend my money there and will go out of my way to spend money there. Other stores just rest on their location. I am getting more acutely aware of how my money works and I'm rejecting a lot of stores that import from china for pennies and sell to me at a inflated prices. I wish more people would realize their dollars pack a punch.

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jonas 9 years, 4 months ago

Online anonymous sympathies are, to my opinion, canned and trite, but if what you heard is true, your friend was truly a brave man. Unfortunately, I doubt we're going to get an explanation. From what I've garnered, he said something before he opened fire, but it was drowned out by the music. Unless he left a note, we'll probably be in the dark on this senseless act forever. I wasn't personally connected to the incident, but the music world has lost, in my opinion, one of the few true innovators it currently had.

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mrcairo 9 years, 4 months ago

Mister_Joe, Then it's all up to the local business owners to pay a fair wage to their employees. Unless of course, they want to make a few dollars and then let the town dry up.

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badger 9 years, 4 months ago

Close, jonas, but not exact.

One of the security guys was a friend. Apparently, he's the one who shoved Vinnie down on stage and covered him to save his life. They haven't released his name yet, but grapevine confirms that it was him. He did not, I'm afraid, survive the experience.

I keep hitting the news sites hoping for an explanation, and they keep putting up the same quote, "Everybody started scattering, you know, there's mayhem everywhere. " They can't know that hundreds of people lost someone they loved named Mayhem, and that said quote still hits like a punch in the stomach.

Those of you who pray, please offer a prayer for Mayhem McGregor. Not his given name, but I'm pretty sure the powers that be will recognize him by that one.

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jonas 9 years, 4 months ago

Badger: If you don't mind me asking, is it personal, or are you a pantera fan?

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 4 months ago

damn it...i thought my story was too good to be true

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Au_contraire 9 years, 4 months ago

Started in Seattle early 20/c as coffee roasting company. Purchased by Pinky and the Brain in late 20/c because they wanted to "take over the world!"

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 4 months ago

i know it opened up at Seattle's Pike Place, the outdoor market (which is still there today)

i just read the original owner tasted coffees in Italy and relocated to downtown Seattle under a new name, Il Giornale, and later acquired enough assets to buy out all of Starbucks to change the name to Starbucks Corp.

they started to go big in 1991 when they allowed the public to invest.

info courtesy of the Starbucks website.

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betti81 9 years, 4 months ago

just a side question: didn't starbucks start as a small town shop and then expand??? too tired to do the research myself, but if anyone knows the true story of starbucks please let me know. thanks

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 4 months ago

but that would drive the local girls outta business, no?

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kns 9 years, 4 months ago

What Lawrence needs is more hot-looking JoCo girls! (No matter what that Merkin person said yesterday!)

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 4 months ago

Au-contraire...

...terrible story and shameful too. But do we hold that against Starbucks or the corporate attorneys?

Starbucks wouldn't be nearly as popular if people wouldn't purchase their products--plain and simple.

Everytime a new small town frowns about a Starbucks coming into town, they should actually be shaming the people that will keep them up-and-running, if they're looking to blame somebody. It's free enterprise and whether we like certain companies or not, those same companies are only successful because so many people keep bringing them the dollars and patronage.

Whole different topic, but I didn't shame President Bush for running for re-election, as unhappy as I was that he did...but I was ticked at the people who voted him in. If Starbucks and Walmart and President Bush continues to thrive, it's a commentary of the American consumer and voter, not of Starbucks, Walmart and Bush. (sorry to get political, guess i was getting pissed again and figured take it out on Bush and his supporters.)

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Au_contraire 9 years, 4 months ago

Second footnote: We could make him a tee shirt identifying him as a "Stranger in a Strange Land".

Uuughhh, I know. Like Mr. Badger, maybe I need time off too.

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Au_contraire 9 years, 4 months ago

Footnote: Let's invite Mr. Bradbury to set up shop here in Larrytown!

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badger 9 years, 4 months ago

Mrcairo and others:

I apologise. I'm afraid I had some Very Bad News today, and it left me on edge and perhaps looking to antagonize. It was unfair of me to respond as I did, and I'm very sorry I did so.

I'm stepping out of this conversation and taking a couple of days off.

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Au_contraire 9 years, 4 months ago

So let's exclude corporations who use strong-arm tactics to muscle themselves into Lawrence. Sounds to me like a reasonable response in order to maintain our unique character, doesn't it?

Didn't WalMart bring suit against the city in response to a building permit being denied? Perhaps that is their true color also...

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Mister_Joe 9 years, 4 months ago

Also....look at Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" for a moment. Moore made tons of money from that movie of his and it was in direct copyright violation of Ray Bradbury's book "Fahrenheit 451". Bradbury, conceivably, could have sued Moore's behind for big bucks, but being the nice guy that he is, he stated publicly that he chose not to do so due to all of the negative press that would have surely ensued.

BTW....Bradbury did send Moore a memo months before Fahrenheit 9/11's release asking Moore, gentleman to gentleman, to cease with the Fahrenheit 9/11 title......Unfortunately for Bradbury, he did not get a favorable reply.

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Mister_Joe 9 years, 4 months ago

Well, at least they were nice enough to offer to help pay for her to change her name! They probably weren't legally obligated to do that. Also, if my name were Ron instead of Joe and I opened up a burger shop and called it "McRonalds"...I would expect McDonalds to come after me at some point. You are aware, are you not, that you don't have to copy someone else's name, likeness, or music exactly how it appears to be in order for you to be held liable for copyright infringement. Your name, music, or whatever only has to be "a close/reasonable facsimile" in order for you to get yourself into hot water legally with some other person or company that already has that (copyrighted)name or that (copyrighted)"beat" in a song. Look what happened to the late George Harrison many years ago! He got nailed! Do a Google search on it. "My Sweet Lord" was the song. A court ruled that parts of his song sounded a little too similar to The Chiffons "He's So Fine". Oh, sure, Harrison nearly blew a gasket when he received the judgement....but that's the way it works in this country!

Names and music only have to sound "similar" (at the very least) to something else in order to fit the criteria of copyright infringement.

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Au_contraire 9 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Joe,

In a previous post, I referred to Starbucks only in passing. However, since you are such a 'fan', I thought it only fair to pass along the following goodie. Here's a couple cut 'n paste paragraphs with the full story available at the URL at the bottom.

"Think you own your name? That you can use it wherever you want? Maybe not.

Nearly [four] years ago, in October 2000, Samantha Buck of Astoria, Oregon bought a small coffee shop in downtown Astoria and named it Sam Buck's -- after herself.

One year later, Starbucks Coffee opened a Starbucks store inside Fred Meyers, five miles away. Starbucks lawyers then served Samantha Buck with a cease and desist order: she must stop using her own name on her store, because they claimed it was causing confusion for Starbucks customers who might be led to believe they were patronizing a Starbucks store when in fact, they were going into Sam Bucks. They offered her $500 for the expense of removing her name from her store.

Sam said no thank you, and soon thereafter, Starbucks filed a lawsuit. She must rename her store or an injunction will be filed, and assuming a properly corporate-friendly judge, will likely be issued and enforced. If Sam Buck continues to use her name on her store, she can be found in contempt of court, and can be jailed. "

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2002/08/104515.shtml

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craigers 9 years, 4 months ago

Both of the bests listed above are overpriced for what you get. You can get cheaper books online and the Longhorn Steak House is a joke. I went there and my chicken strip basket was about 10 bucks and that wasn't worth it. Then two other people in our party got steaks that were dry and chewy. I don't think I will patronize Longhorn anymore.

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Mister_Joe 9 years, 4 months ago

Let's look a Starbucks for a moment. I once read an article about how some small town out west was all up in arms about Starbucks coming to town. There were a few established mom and pop coffee shops that were opposed to Starbucks entering into "their territory". Well, with all of that publicity, when that Starbucks came into that town, what do you think happened? Sales at that particular Starbucks where very impressive, and meanwhile those mom and pop coffee shops saw their sales decline to some degree or another.--And that continued to be the case for several months afterward.

Now whose fault is that? Starbucks? I mean it's a free country, right? Free enterprise, capitalism, freedom of choice, etc. Nobody made all of those people buy their cup 'o joe at Starbucks. So....I'm not really sure if Starbucks is quite the "evil empire" that some (many?) people claim that it is, but they are playing on a level field. I have noticed that whenever I go into a Starbucks, their prices seem to be pretty much in line with other coffee shops---especially when it comes to specialty drinks, like lattes. And honestly, I kind of like the taste of their Gingerbread lattes, myself! (Oh, well! So sue me!)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that "big corporations" versus "the little guy" is not an easy thing to decide. I think both can fit in and do well in almost any city or town. Whoever sells the best product and/or at the lowest price will win. And that seems to sound an awful lot like.."The American Way" of doing business!

Now, if it just so happens that a large corporation exploits cheap foreign labor (countries that allow children to work in factories and/or countries whose workers are forced to operate in such lousy/dangerous working conditions) so as to keep their prices artificially low, or contributes in a harmful manner to the environment in any way (here in this country or elsewhere), well, then, I guess patrons of those particular places should take note of those things and then decide for themselves whether or not they want to continue to shop at those "big corporate evil-doers".

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ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 9 years, 4 months ago

"Best of Lawrence" bummers:

Best bookstore - Border's Best new restaurant - "Longhorn Steak House

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italianprincess 9 years, 4 months ago

My landlord had to change his buisness name from " Old Home Depot " to " Old Home Store " thanks to " The Home Depot " even though he has been a small buisness owner here in Lawrence for six years. They have even informed him to not use the color " Orange " in any of his advertising what so ever because thats their trade mark color.

He tried to keep his original name, but of course with " The Home Depot " and the BIG wig corporate lawyers, is truely wasn't worth the hassle of spending anymore money and he changed his buisness name.

I do shop at Walmart quite often for this and that, and you are most likely going to find some type of corporate chain in every city through out the U.S., but for them to come in and demand a buisness owner to change his name and to never use a color takes the cake.

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consumer1 9 years, 4 months ago

As an addition to Mr. Joe. Building owners already are forcing exhorbitant rents on local small businesses. My guess it to force them out to get some phat cats like Tommy Hilfiger to come to this town and send the $$ to Philidelphia or L.A. These are the types that are ruining Lawrence.

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Mister_Joe 9 years, 4 months ago

Yes, but mrcairo, if you (and lots of others) don't support local businesses....then those local businesses will slowly go out of business. And the landlords won't have any rent money coming in. And then, as a result, the landlords will have their property foreclosed by their bankers. And before you know it, downtown Lawrence will start to look like a ghost town! Is that what you want to have happen? Please say no!

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badger 9 years, 4 months ago

"I don't shop here because the only people who profit are the business owners. The workers remain at the poverty level."

Yeah, and that kid working at Best Buy on Metcalf, he's totally raking in the dough . You work retail, you make less than ten bucks an hour, fact of existence. Who are these businesses you're shopping at in Overland Park that give their retail, grocery, and shipping staff these high-paying jobs with full benefits?

I used to do office work in KC when I lived there. For my skill set, which was rather good by the standards of four years ago (when I was doing it), I could expect to receive 8-9 bucks an hour for a starting wage, unless I wanted to be in a 'professional' (read, lawyers, brokers, etc) office. I switched to Lawrence, doing exactly the same thing with exactly the same skill set, in 2000, to make 10.50 an hour, over a dollar more than my last position. Your call that people doing a job in Lawrence get 'poverty' wages while the business owners rake in the profits, doesn't seem terribly accurate, if your comparison point is the same type of job for a massive corporation in Overland Park, where hourly employees are held at 34 hours a week to keep them from qualifying for benefits, but the company can still say they offer 'full benefits' because 25% of their managers actually qualify.

There may be more white-collar opportunities in KC, I'll acknowledge that. For blue-collar opportunities, I bet you'd be surprised what's here.

You say you pay your property taxes. This is good. How does that fit into your earlier assertion that you choose to support the community that supports you? I understood your commentary to mean that you chose, deliberately, to support businesses and the economy in Johnson County, while living here. There's a disconnect there, and I'd appreciate clarification of, "Frankly, I spend my money in the community that supports me."

Because to me that really sounds like you are deliberately choosing to eschew supporting businesses and the economy in Lawrence, from which you do profit.

Enlighten me. Where does the city sales tax go, if not to provide for elements of running and maintaining the city? Where do the taxes go, that you receive no benefit from them whatsoever? I'm genuinely curious.

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mrcairo 9 years, 4 months ago

Badger,

I pay my taxes. State, Federal, Local. Including property tax.

None of the items you mention are derived from sales tax at the local level. It all goes into one big pot and is split up. If there were a local tax, that went to improvements you speak of, then you would have an issue.

My local property taxes support the schools.

I don't shop here because the only people who profit are the business owners. The workers remain at the poverty level.

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 4 months ago

i appreciated your feedback badger...very well stated.

i moved to kansas from chicago back in '98 to attend KU and have been ever since. I'm working on my second master's degree and probably my doctorate (yes, again at KU I'm sure--which is odd in itself). I'm just trying to find my niche here in KS and find what area I love best. I enjoy Shawnee, KS, yet would love to move back and own a smaller home in East Lawrence. If I ever become a professor at KU, I'm sure I'll do just that...and balance my spending at mom-and-pop, local owned joints and larger corporations as well.

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lucy1 9 years, 4 months ago

what is a corporate business? some stores have a corporate name, but are localy owned, and operated.while others appear to be local, however have out of town owners. Where does it strat and end?

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badger 9 years, 4 months ago

Jayhawk-

Ideally, one should live, work, and shop in the same community if one doesn't want to contribute to sprawl. That's not always possible, and I know that.

Do you spend your days complaining that JoCo isn't enough like KCK, or vice versa? Do you deliberately choose to shop in one community while taking services from the other? It's not a matter of 'right' or 'wrong' as much as it is a matter of recognizing the level of dependence you have on a community and supporting it as much as it supports you, as opposed to complaining that it's not exactly to suit and refusing to support the place where you live.

My true beef is with people who complain that Lawrence doesn't have this or that that JoCo has, that Lawrence for one reason or another isn't enough like Johnson County. There must be some reason they've chosen to live in Lawrence instead of Johnson County. As such, I resent their efforts to assimilate Lawrence, and to demand that it 'pony up' to JoCo's alleged 'standards' and join it in the race to bland corporatization and unhealthy sprawl. I don't ever want to be as boring and cookie-cutter as the area between 95th and 135th on Metcalf. I don't want eighty-bazillion-lane roads flanked by four shopping centers full of big box stores.

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remember_username 9 years, 4 months ago

I think that the City Commission has done a laudable job of restricting mega-corporations from intruding on local businesses. Personally I rather see the "Walmart" out of here, but I realize a compromise must be made. I think Lawrence has achieved a good balance to date.

I would like to see Lawrence bring in some more industry as we seem to be more and more a bedroom communitee for KC and Olathe. Perhaps something could be done with the university and the local government to raise some venture funds for university technology transfers - spread some of that biotech money around.

As for the roundabouts: Some day a pedestrian is going to get hit crossing the street at a roundabout. On many of them the sidewalk doesn't go wide and a pedestrian crossing straight across travels into the path automobiles are forced to traverse. The car doesn't have to be going very fast for somebody to get badly hurt.

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 4 months ago

badger...very inciteful argument.

i'm a public special education teacher, does this mean that I should teach within the community I reside? I live in Johnson County, but have elected to teach in Kansas City, KS...am I wrong or right according to your argument?

(and no, I am not provoking an argument, just asking a genuine question to follow the logic, so I can determine if I fully agree/disagree with you)

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badger 9 years, 4 months ago

The community that supports you, mrcairo?

You mean by using my tax dollars (I live, work, and shop in Lawrence, by the way, make more than 9.00 an hour, and have done so several years) to offer your home free police and fire protection, to offer any children you might have a free education, or by providing you roads you can complain about (but apparently not pay for), and little things like a Health Department? The community that spends my money to clear your streets of snow and provide you with parks and greenspaces you enjoy free of charge?

No, wait, you mean by giving you a paycheck. I'm not criticizing you directly, to be honest. I'm pointing out that a lot of people just look at shallow surface issues of immediate personal comfort and benefit, instead of really looking at what one gets from a community. So someplace like JoCo pays the bills. Why not support them wholly, those of you who complain that you can't get 'good' work in Lawrence, and give them your property and residence tax dollars as well, and your voting registration?

It sounds snarky, but if you choose to support other communities while living here, what you're doing is requiring me to pay the equivalent of social welfare by providing services to you while you provide your tax support to another community voluntarily. You take up money and services that could support people who actually try to contribute to the community. I simply suggest that if you want to support that community, you join it.

It's nice to live in Lawrence, but it's a little shortsighted to complain that Lawrence isn't corporate enough to support you in the style to which you've become accustomed, when one of the things that makes the town so nice is that it hasn't. It's having your cake and eating it too.

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fanny_farkel 9 years, 4 months ago

Well! Those freakin' left-wing butt-munches at L J World went and did it again! They zapped my last moniker! WTF!! What, was it something I said??!! I guess they just hate free speech! Unless, of course, it's from the freakin' kook libs that live around here! This makes the 4th moniker I've had to create! Whoa!! Hey freaks at the L J World: I can only do this for so long! Once I hit 100 monikers I'm gonna call it quits! Only 96 more to go! So bite me chumps! Every so often I'll make my way in here for the soul purpose of shoving it in your friggin' face! Just because Herman lost the last election and you're sufferin' from P.E.S.T., it's not my friggin' problem dickweeds! I'm tellin' ya : move to friggin' Canada! Shut your friggin' Urinal World down! It's a hopeless left-wing rag anyway! It sucks! Just like you chumps! (oh !! what freedom I feel knowing that whatever I say, the kooks at LJW are gonna shut me down again anyway, so I might as well speak my piece!)

Oh:and by the way, have a nice day!

BWABWAHHAHHAHHHHAHAHHHAHAHHAHHHAHHHHAHHAHHAHHAHH!

Oh, almost forgot to answer today's question: I think that we need a nice local newspaper here in town. Not a friggin' corporate mini-NY Times! Left leanin' heterophobes! Chumps!!

BWABWABWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!

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betti81 9 years, 4 months ago

Hey mrcairo...$9.00 an hour isn't good money, but at least i have a job.

boo to round-a-bouts. seriously, people in this town have a hard enough time with 4-way stops. the round-a-bouts are scary people. scary.

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mrcairo 9 years, 4 months ago

I don't think the people who live here should support either. They both pay terrible wages with lousy benefits. I have to drive to JOCO to make a living.

Frankly, I spend my money in the community that supports me.

Hey kids, $9.00 an hour isn't good money.

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 4 months ago

Au_contraire...I enjoyed your comments.

And by traffic donuts, does that refer to those ridiculous European-style round-abouts?!!? Ugh!!!!

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Au_contraire 9 years, 4 months ago

Footnote: I did not see ONE SINGLE traffic donut in Austin, TX, however. What's up with these stupid things and the urgency behind building them?

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Au_contraire 9 years, 4 months ago

Corporate America is pervasive like that Michigan creeping fungus. Yet corporate America has pockets of businesses responsible enough to provide great products to the consumer, be thoughtful about environmental issues, and have the creativity to fit to individual locations rather than force cookie-cutter solutions, and still manage to remain profitable.

What Lawrence needs to do in the next many decades is recognize these issues and encourage the 'good guys' while restricting corporate expansion which imposes on Lawrence's unique character.

In some ways (and I know I will get flamed for this), the current City Commission has demonstrated an understanding of what is right and what is not right for Lawrence. Certainly, there are exceptions to this, and some are glaring exceptions. It's not that we don't necessarily want development around FSH school (for example), it is that development should not be rushed. With previous Commissions, it was a scenario of growth no matter what the cost, and Lawrence expanded its sprawl as a result.

I do not condone corporate tactics of putting established local businesses out of business by plunking down right next door and under-cutting prices. That's why I visit La Prima Tasa rather than Starbucks, for example (not a good example of price competition, however).

Visit Austin TX sometime and observe the jarring contrast of corporate glitz abutting long-established local businesses and you will get an idea of what Lawrence could become if corporate America is left unconstrained.

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm so mixed on this issue...I like the quaint feel of Lawrence shops, and yet, I like that the competition should provide more options at a lower cost.

I think Lawrence becomes too sensitive about keeping larger corporations out (i.e. the hospital plan near Free State High School that was ran out of town only because it was backed by a larger, more powerful company)

Lawrence is beautiful, particularly Mass St.--I only wish many of the shops would stay open earlier/close later throughout the week, including weekends.

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