Most cities have places other than supermarkets where people can buy produce – fresh produce, a little taste of the farm in an urban setting. Among Montreal’s markets, Marché Atwater and Marché Jean Talon, are very different beasts. Atwater is a little more upmarket than Jean Talon, catering as it does to what were once called yuppies; well-to-do young adults who have moved into the many condo buildings that have sprung up in the vicinity of the market over the last couple of decades. Not only is it bigger, but Jean Talon is also closer to a true farmers’ market.
Recent news that international coffee super-chain Starbucks is opening a store near the Jean Talon market has created a bit of an uproar among those who ply their trade at or near the market as well as regular shoppers. The market’s merchants are local fruit and vegetable producers, butchers, fishmongers, cheese-mongers and assorted others. There is no shortage of small coffee shops in the vicinity. The key word is local. Starbucks, so the protesters claim, just does not fit in with that local flavor. Would the US coffee chain be more welcome at the Atwater Market?
An online petition has been drawing numerous signatories – over 7500 as I write, with a goal of 8,000. The petition states:
The mission of the Marchés Publics de Montréal (MPM) is to give Montrealers access to local produce that correspond (sic) to their identity.
The opening of a Starbucks Coffee in Jean-Talon Market fundamentally denies the mission of the MPM, and favours a globalized economy, which is dehumanizing and polluting instead of promoting a local economy based on human scale and sustainable principles.
A Starbucks Coffee is a threat to the Little Italy landscape, a neighbourhood renowned for its independent coffee shops.
Therefore, we ask this project to be stopped.
This appears to be a David and Goliath battle. retail business can sure be a dog eat dog world, but would Starbucks not do more for its brand image by opting not to bully its way into neighborhoods like this? On one hand the company is currently encouraging its clients to have conversations about the state of racial relations with its “Race together” initiative, yet it is also potentially taking food out of the mouths of small business owners.