Saturday, June 01, 2013

De-romanticising mom and pop

One response to Yglesias' post The Tragic Inelasticity of Bar Supply points to the great virtue of the growth model: 

It's not just bar owners and land-owners that make good money if a sport-bar becomes popular. Workers benefit to. People will probably leave bigger tips if the drinks are more expensive. And if an entrepeneur wants to keep his bar high-profile he will need to invest in hiring the best workers possible. (They might have to offer better pay then a generic fast-food chain: if you pay good money for your drink, you expect good service) Those workers will spend their extra money on all kind's of stuff which will benefit the economy.
but another posted the inevitable response: 
Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded. - Yogi Berra
My favorite responses to Yglesias' post: 
Learn to love chains? The chains that tend to pay as little as possible, use the cheapest products possible and charge the maximum price possible in order to increase margins and make their shareholders happy rather than the customers? No thanks!
Why learn to love chains? Why not just encourage more lovable local dives to start up? Aren't we better served by true small, personal businesses than big corporate impersonal monopolies?
This is a bit unfair to chains, since small businesses have to keep costs down too, including labor costs. But the old-style mom and pop bore that burden entirely on themselves and their kids. However, increasingly small businesses are not mom and pops -- they are small entrepreneurs starting up, hiring employees and even managers to handle the day-to-day.

There are still true mom and pops in the LES: shoe repair, printing/copying, bike repair, a couple of bakeries and butchers, locksmiths, a drugstore here and there, hardware, an exterminator (he keeps a tank full of a hissing Madagascar cockroaches). Most of those cannot be replaced with on-line services. It would be shame to see them replaced with chains.

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