Masters Thesis

From the local pub to the corner store: a pilot study on the importance of small, independent businesses as sites of passive community-building

In an age of the ever-increasing scale and mega-corporatization of the means of daily existence through such entities as Wal-Mart, Costco, Starbucks and Home Depot, are we losing the places and spaces that we, as people, need in order to stay psychologically, socially, and culturally healthy? Is the local Wal-Mart as equally capable of acting as a site of community-building as the old general store? Is a chain-formula Starbucks just as good as an independent coffee shop or the old “local pub”? Can Starbucks ever be a place “where everybody knows your name”? Does it even matter? This pilot study explores small, local, independent businesses as sites of passive community-building as compared to their larger and/or mega-corporate counterparts. Chain coffee shops are compared to independent shops using direct observation and qualitative interviewing. Small natural food stores are compared to their post-expansion larger versions through qualitative interviewing. Preliminary results indicate that small, independent businesses are the best sites of community-building. However, both chain stores and the larger natural food stores were found to serve other goals and objectives, the importance of which individual communities should be ready to debate. Simplified Chinese: 在如沃尔玛、好事多、星巴克和家得宝等大型企业规模正在持续增长的时代,作为人类的我们是否正在丢失能让我们从心理上、社会上和文化上保持健康的空间? 在当地,作为一个社区建设地点之一的沃尔玛是否能替代古老的杂货店? 以连锁方式经营的星巴克是否能媲美于独立的一家咖啡店或者是酒吧? 在星巴克,是否人人都能熟知彼此? 它对于人们的生活是否至关重要? 这份研究报告把作为被动式社区建设地点之一的当地小型独立企业与它的竞争对手----那些规模较大的或(和)大型企业相比,而后作了一番探索。通过直接观测和定性试验,连锁咖啡店被比做了独立的商店。通过定性试验,小型天然食品店被比做其后因扩展而形成的大型商店。 初步研究的结果表明,小型独立企业是最佳的社区建设地点之一。 然而,连锁商店和规模较大的天然食品店,都是为了其他目标而设立的。这些目标的重要性,将会激起个体群的争辩。 Traditional Chinese: 在如沃爾瑪、好事多、星巴克和家得寶等大型企業規模正在持續增長的時代,作為人類的我們是否正在丟失能讓我們從心理上、社會上和文化上保持健康的空間? 在當地,作為一個社區建設地點之一的沃爾瑪是否能替代古老的雜貨店? 以連鎖方式經營的星巴克是否能媲美於獨立的一家咖啡店或者是酒吧? 在星巴克,是否人人都能熟知彼此? 它對於人們的生活是否至關重要? 這份研究報告把作為被動式社區建設地點之一的當地小型獨立企業与它的競爭對手----那些規模較大的或(和)大型企業相比,而後作了一番探索。通過直接觀測和定性試驗,連鎖咖啡店被比做了獨立的商店。通過定性試驗,小型天然食品店被比做其後因擴展而形成的大型商店。 初步研究的結果表明,小型獨立企業是最佳的社區建設地點之一。 然而,連鎖商店和規模較大的天然食品店,都是為了其他目標而設立的。這些目標的重要性,將會激起個體群的爭辯。