Endgame: It’s bigger than Safari Cup

Last we visited I was telling you the story of Safari Cup Coffee in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood under threat from a nearby Starbucks who is trying to put little independent Safari Cup out of business. In fairness to all concerned. I have reached out to the Alderman, Tom Tunney,the local Chamber of Commerce’s Heather Way and Starbucks. So far, none of them have responded. I’ll keep trying.

There are two fights here. the first, and most urgent to Safari Cup’s Dave McLaughlin is the fight to save his business. His very loyal friends and customers have gotten involved. There isn’t a need for this sort of fight. There’s plenty of business for all, in fact, the Starbucks down the block does just fine, but they apparently want all of the pie. To get it they have no remorse at all for drawing down on Safari Cup. More is a never ending word.

McLaughlin himself has a bigger perspective. “In the end, literally everything depends on where the guy or gal on the street spends their money. If they cut back on spending their hard-earned income at corporate entities like the Green Cancer, Walmart, Georgia Pacific etc, etc, and spend it with the Mom and Pop retailers, the impact would be phenomenal.”

So it’s all about the marketplace, the cold hard realities of a dog eat dog, winner take all, take no prisoners marketplace? If that’s the case, then the real fight is becoming epic as a David verus  Goliath square-off, and there’s nothing anyone can do but see how it all plays out. That would place the  struggle firmly between a giant corporation who wants to eliminate any and all competition and take the entire marketplace for itself and a small business man who just wants to keep the doors open. Safari Cup is in this fight for its life.

But is it really winner take all, regardless of the firepower one side brings to the fight? Is that what we’ve come to in this country? So it really isn’t about supply and demand, and giving good quality and service and carving out a niche in the market. It is about power and the luxury of welding it fully and ruthlessly. How very Ayn Rand. Sound heartless, immoral and unfair? That was the impression left by Bennett Lawson from  Alderman Tom Tunney’s office when he said there’s nothing illegal about what Starbucks is  doing.

“I don’t want to speak for the marketplace,” said Lawson, “but there is nothing to stop Starbucks from doing what they are doing.”

That seems a bit short-sighted, and hardly a solution for a troubled economy that would benefit more from vibrant, healthy small businesses and private entrepreneurship, over the fickleness of out-of-town corporations, whose only responsibility is to profit rather than community. One model drives living wages and pride in community. The other drives for the extreme bottom-line in wages and has only a cursory interest in community. 

When asked about zoning changes, Lawson was adamant that no new zoning changes had taken place. What Starbucks was doing, or is suspected on doing, he pointed out, was, though disagreeable, was well within their rights. but again, in a city in which Alderpersons run their wards like little fiefdoms, that too seems suspect.

It will be interesting to hear the Alderman’s thoughts on this hotly and bitterly brewing battle.  When asked if he would appear on the radio program Sunday I was told that Alderman Tunney would be busy running his own business. Not Three minutes later Mister Lawson said the Alderman was available because he was out of town. While neither is mutually exclusive, it sounds like a bit of a run-around.

As the fight heats up, it will be important to know where the Alderman stands; With an honest business man trying to keep his doors open, or an out-of-town corporation, the “green cancer” if you will, who is trying to crush him out of existence.  

Catch 900poundgorilla’s WC Turck every Sunday 8-9am only on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT am820 and streaming live for the Revolution and Beer segment, as Brian and I sample the Craft Beer of the week with the Our Town gang, and run down the grassroots calendar for the week. If you’re tired of talk, talk, talk radio, this is do something radio. Get involved.


About 900poundgorilla

W.C. Turck is a Chicago playwright and the author of four widely acclaimed books.His latest is "The Last Man," a prophetic novel of a world ruled by a single corporation. His first novel, "Broken: One Soldier's Unexpected Journey Home," was reccommended by the National Association of Mental Health Institutes. His 2009 Memoir, "Everything for Love" chronicled the genocide in Bosnia and the siege of Sarajevo. His third book "Burn Down the Sky" is published exclusively on Amazon Kindle. It was in Sarajevo at the height of the siege where he met and married his wife, writer and Artist Ana Turck. FOX NEWS, ABC, CBS News, the Chicago Tribune and The Joliet Herald covered their reunion after the war. He helped organized relief into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Turck has been a guest on WMAQ-TV, WLS in Chicago, WCPT, WBBM radio, National Public Radio, Best Of the Left and the Thom Hartmann show. He has spoken frequently on Human Rights, Genocide and Nationalism. In 2011, his play in support of the Occupy Movement, "Occupy My Heart-a revolutionary Christmas Carol" recieved national media attention and filled theaters to capacity across Chicago. He remains an activist to the cause of human rights and international peace. View all posts by 900poundgorilla

2 responses to “Endgame: It’s bigger than Safari Cup

  • Safari Cup faces a fight against Starbucks… in Chicago | The Terminal - Birmingham AL's hub

    […] local blog, 900poundgorilla, maintained by W.C. Truck, has also been vocal about the impending Starbucks expansion. He’s gone so far as to write an open letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on his site […]

    • 900poundgorilla

      So far Mister Schultz has not accepted the offer, which remains, and which will be respectful, conversation but earnest. The key here is clarity. The Starbucks move appears predatory in nature, given that a Cleaners next to Safari Cup is being forced out to the detriment of their customers and employees despite a willingness to pay higher rent to remain in that location. Starbucks is pushing hard to cross the street from their current location to move in right next door to Safari Cup, and apparently twisting arms to do it. What is their urgency to move from the current good and profitable location? The question for Starbucks CEO Schultz is what responsibility he feels to the neighborhood, and whether it is right to force another business out for the sake of higher profits. It comes down to this, is Starbucks a part of the community or simply feeding off it. Listen to the show 8-9am Sundays on WCPT in Chicago, streaming worldwide for updates on this David and Goliath story.

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