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"Occupy Napa" Takes On Starbucks

Updated 7 a.m.: The local protest group is calling for opposition to Starbucks' rumored interest in opening a coffee shop at the corner of First and Main streets in downtown Napa.


A recent report in the about the sale of a prominent downtown business building appears to have sparked a new protest movement against , mentioned in the article as a potential new tenant at the corner of First and Main streets.

The proximity of the proposed Starbucks to the longtime local hangout is the focus of this week's general assembly of the group, according to an event posting on Facebook.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, 47 people had indicated they would attend the meeting at on West Street Tuesday evening.

Among the comments on the Facebook page:

This is a nasty move, obviously trying to force out a local business. One that does a GREAT job by the way - and not only that - they support local music! Step up, Napa! Are we going to let a big box crush a local family? (Kellie Fuller)

How many unremarkable overpriced chain coffee stores does Napa need? (Poppy Jones)

You don't need to bash one thing in order to stand up for another thing. Support the Roasting Company if you want to. Starbucks doesn't steal business. You give it to them. It's not like their drinks are cheaper. (Skyler Barto)

Hard to imagine a more trivial issue to occupy the collective mind of Occupy Napa. (Genji Schmeder)

Organizers of Tuesday's meeting posted on the event's Facebook wall:

This is a blatantly aggressive maneuver by Starbucks to challenge a local cafe. Starbucks is a multinational corporation that ...values their profit over the desires of the people.

If we, as the people of Napa, do not want Starbucks to open up a store directly by the Napa Valley Roasting Company, we need to come together, brainstorm strategy and tactics, and act now.

Occupy Napa has been having its general assemblies every Tuesday at 7:30 in the . Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Napa is a movement that emerged to challenge and resist the corporate greed and domination over our lives.

We will be hosting an organizing meeting this Tuesday to start brain storming ways we can resist Starbuck's effort to open up a store in Downtown Napa.

It is our intention to initiative the discussion. If those wanting to help organize against Starbucks want to form a separate group or task force, that can happen.

We welcome anyone and everyone who wants to come together to help plan effective actions to ensure Starbucks does not open up a store in our Downtown.

There are currently five freestanding Starbucks shops in the city, with additional Starbucks counters operating inside and stores.

Xulio Soriano December 19, 2011 at 09:23 PM
Starbucks used as an example in this video-lecture: "You're not just buying a cup of coffee...you fulfill a full series of ethical duties" http://youtu.be/hpAMbpQ8J7g
Xulio Soriano December 19, 2011 at 09:25 PM
I do not want to see a Starbucks there.
Alex Shantz December 19, 2011 at 09:26 PM
Milton Friedman was out of touch with real economic struggle. He justified some of the most heinous atrocities committed against working poor people in order to defend a broken economic theory. We, as a people, have the right to determine what type of businesses we want in our community. We do not have to be subjected to corporate rule, lest we relinquish our power as a people. We do not have to tolerate artificial and oppressive "rules" of Laessez Faire. We can construct our own economic systems based on principles that benefit us, as a people, and not corporate tyrants motivated by only a desire to maximize profits. People who adhere to the dogma of Laessez Faire would have us relinquish our sense of self-determination as a poepel.
Alex Shantz December 19, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Julio, Slavoj Zizek is great. I would much rather live WITHIN an economic system based on Zizek's ideas rather then UNDER an economic system based on Friedman's ideas.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 19, 2011 at 10:32 PM
I imported the YouTube video to the article as well: Thanks, Julio, for enriching the conversation.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 19, 2011 at 10:33 PM
That's a funny anecdote! But, I don't see where anyone here is calling for government action against Starbucks.
Steven Jacobs December 19, 2011 at 11:13 PM
Brand recognition? Multi-hudred-million-dollar advertising campaigns?
Steven Jacobs December 20, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Who benefits from laissez-faire "Free Market"? The original purpose of a market (as laid out in The Wealth of Nations) is to let the "invisible hand" work its magic. The "invisible hand" creates a situation in which costs are equal to benefits, thus being the most efficient allocation of resources for not just any particular individual, but simultaneously being the most efficient allocation of resources for society as a whole. This is the entire purpose of the creation of the market. Unfortunately, for the "invisible hand" to actually create this situation, certain conditions must be met, only one of which is necessary to bring up: no externalities. An externality is when somebody from a transaction between two economic actors has an effect on a third unrelated actor; therefore externalities can be either positive or negative. In either case, the market is not allocating the most efficient use of resources because the prices are either too low (as with a negative externality) or too high (as with a positive externality). This fact is especially stark when one examines how an unregulated market treats public goods, it will always, not sometimes, always under-allocate (the price will be too low compared to demand to reach the equivalence point). This is just one reason why unregulated markets benefit few, for a short time; and, in the long run truly benefits nobody. Everybody uses public goods (air, pollination, soil, water, sunlight all have an economic value, in $$)!
Adrian D. Fenderson DDS December 20, 2011 at 12:37 AM
Power to the People? Sounds familiar. Seems I heard several communists groups shout that in the 60s. Our republic may not be perfect but it works incredibly well for the overall good of a free people... better than any other. But better is a matter of opinion. Better to some is a control of our lives, including our businesses, from cradle to grave and a redistribution of wealth. I will not change the minds of the socialists, ultra liberals and Karl Marx lovers nor can these arguments change my core beliefs and principles nor my love for freedom, for less government and a better world. I am a very charitible and humanitarian person. The bleeding heart libertarian in me stil is fascinated yet annoyed with those who say "there ought to be a law".
Alex Shantz December 20, 2011 at 12:57 AM
Typical. Instead of addressing actual points, you go straight to labeling poeple communists, without even explaining what communism is. One in seven Americans are living in poverty. The social fabric of our society is being dismantled by cuts to social programs, increases in college tuition, and fees to use what are suppose to be social services. All this while the top 1% accumulates more wealth. Is this what it looks like when the "republic" is working "well for the overall good of a 'free people'"? People need to reclaim their DEMOCRACY! Living in poverty, being denied access to eudcation, housing, food, health care, and other human rights, is that what freedom looks like under capitalism. Freedom to starve, to remain ignorant, to die of sickness, to live without a home, those are the freedoms granted to us under the current system. True freedom is understanding our social responsibility to those around us by constructing social systems, in the spirit of self-determination, that benefit those within the society. True freedom is having access to education, health care, and housing. True freedom is not standing idle while a huge corporation destroys a local business, thereby limiting options people have to shop at. Charity is insufficient. We need a system in which poverty would be an impossibility.
Dan Graham December 20, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Since when is wanting to support a local business and keep a giant corporation from destroying them a "communist" value? Geez.
Dan Graham December 20, 2011 at 09:39 PM
Also Starbucks on Lincoln Ave is a 18 minute walk, 6 minute bike ride, or 3 minute drive from Downtown Napa. Just saying.
richard chasey December 21, 2011 at 01:16 AM
I feel it only fair that in this " free market" philosphy being tossed around that competing cable tv companiies be allowed to open up business. Comcast's monoply has allowed it to rip off northern Calif for too long!!!
richard chasey December 21, 2011 at 01:38 AM
By the way has anyone checked out the map of starbuck locations in the Napa,Vallejo, and Sonoma Counties, You cant swing a live Barista in any direction without hitting one. I have to believe with amount of caffine fueling local drivers, road rage must be at an all time high! Happy Holidays
Karl Broche December 21, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Downtown Napa is a ghost town, if ANY company that offers decent jobs and pays its employees benefits wants to open here, why would we want to stop them? Revitalize the area, create more jobs and entice more tourists to visit the area and spend money. What positive change to the area is "Occupy" bringing to the revitalization of the area? That's right, NOTHING.
Alex Shantz December 21, 2011 at 04:53 PM
"Downtown Napa is a ghost town, if ANY company that offers decent jobs and pays its employees benefits wants to open here, why would we want to stop them?" This has got to be one of the most frightening statements I have ever read. We should let ANY corporation open up here? Even if this corporation is threatening local businesses, undermining the unique character of Downtown, and sucking up business opportunities that could be given to local businesses to revitalize the LOCAL economy? Not to mention the devastating impact Starbucks is having across the globe. We should let ANY corporation open up Downtown? No standards? Nothing. That is chilling.
Matt Jackson December 21, 2011 at 05:08 PM
I choose to not shop at Starbucks anymore. I will go without. Starbucks has every right to put the store there. But, hopefully we have every right to voice our distaste over ultimately, the lack of corporate classiness. Dr. Fenderson, you might open a dental practice right next to your competition, that would be perfectly fine. Free Market in fact. But, if you opened 12 in a 7 year period with motives to squash the other dentist: you might be a jerk. Right? Starbucks business model doesn't include local competition. Free market needs competition!
Angela White December 21, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga have no problem supporting their community to keep corporate out. How come we can't do the same, or at least choose what is good for OUR community and LOCAL economy!? Sad!
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 21, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Hi everyone: Poll update! A Patch user on Facebook has said the original yes-no poll did not include an option for those with no opinion. So today we have a third poll option, "I don't care." As always, comments are welcome, we only ask that you not attempt to conceal your identity by posting under a false or assumed screen name. Thank you all.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 21, 2011 at 08:57 PM
As a reporter who's covered the city for more than a decade, I can't agree that downtown Napa is a "ghost town." That hasn't been true for years, especially now. Shops and restaurants are opening all the time and foot traffic is not only busier than in past years, but younger. Just this morning I interviewed one of the sponsors of the sales tax measure that created the flood control district and she told me that downtown has turned around "far better than (she) ever envisioned."
Scott Yeager December 22, 2011 at 05:45 PM
If downtown Napa is a "ghost town" what was it 5 years ago? Compared to then it is thriving.
Richard Bruns December 22, 2011 at 05:48 PM
The declared goal of the Starbucks chain founder was "To become the MacDonald's of Coffee" and he has succeeded admirably. MacDonald's has successfully put out of business thousands of local hamburger and short-order stands. There are three thriving local businesses that have earned their way in Napa, paying taxes, providing services and I will even support the smoke shop even though I think smokers are committing slow suicide (amply supported by medical evidence). There are only three existing Communist countries today that still tout themselves as Communists: Cuba; Norther Korea; and...China. How many Made in China objects in your home, Dr. Fenderson? In your dental office? We are in the 21st Century. The power to the people cries of the 60s were primarily against the Viet Nam War. And they were right. Even the government admits that. Calling people names doesn't solve the problem of a megacorporation once again putting Mom and Pop LOCAL businesses...out of business. Just a reminder: Starbuck's and Starbuck owner is/are a member of the ONE PERCENT! Merry Christmas all, Happy Hanukkah, and Ommmm.
Scott Yeager December 22, 2011 at 05:48 PM
What you describe as a "free market" doesn't exist. Well, that's not true, you can go to a country with no functioning government such as Somalia and find the libertarian paradise you believe in.
Lowell December 23, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Has anyone asked the owners of the coffee roasting company if they mind a Starbucks coming? Maybe Starbucks will bring more coffee drinkers downtown and then more people will learn of the Coffee Roasting Company. Will I go to Starbucks over Coffee Roasting? No. Will my friends? Some yes. Will it promote Coffee Roasting Co. to be more stimulated to be the local first coffee company and do more for the community to stand out as the local's choice? Who's to say how the economic benefit will change? Do we change culture by attacking one corporation, that now owns Peets, too? What do we spend our time on? Are we ignoring the fact that the Obama administration just tossed out the constitution by authorizing the arrest and permanent detainment of American citizens? What do we want to spend our time on? Are we forgetting that millions of Americans cannot get access to a vital medicine (cannabis) and doctors cannot get the full research done of the medicine because the Obama administration is still obsessed with the war on drugs and will not reduce Cannabis from a section 1 drug? Where will change come from? Are we looking for leaders to run for election on our city council who will support a diverse economy, liveable wages, education, etc? Has anyone been looking at the taxes being raised, how the city is being run? Are we increasing our support of neighborhood organizations and neighborhood issues? Have a wonderful holiday all!
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 23, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Lowell, if you have information that Starbucks bought Peets, please share it ASAP. There's been nothing in the news since some rumors of a merger earlier this year.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 23, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Letter to the editor in today's Register: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/opinion/mailbag/starbucks-isn-t-the-right-fit-for-downtown-napa/article_479b7380-2d23-11e1-8304-0019bb2963f4.html
Lisa Batto December 24, 2011 at 03:53 PM
I'm not certain that we can keep a formulary business out of downtown. We have several there already. Avia hotel, Norman Rose, Annete's, Napa Valley Roasting Company, Cole's chop house, Subway, Ace Hardware etc. each of these businesses are technically formula because they are corporation owned and/or more than one exists. I object to changing the architecture and character of our downtown, such as what Starbucks would want to build and what has already been allowed to Talbotts. If Starbucks is allowed I don't want their brand-looking building on the corner of Main and First. In Business competition stinks, but it is a reality that business owners face and should always be prepared to meet head on.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) December 26, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Hi Lisa, it is always so good to have you join the conversation. Thank you. I think there's precedent for municipalities to restrain the branding when a chain comes in: McDonalds don't always have golden arches, and so on. The Subway on First Street, not far from the location we're discussing, is almost invisible. A subtle Starbucks is quite possible for downtown Napa. By the way, I suppose you can add Napa Patch to the list of formula businesses. When we went live 13 months ago we were the 400th Patch in the nation. There are now more than twice as many, each as different as the community it serves.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 03, 2012 at 10:13 PM
The opponents of a downtown Starbucks are now circulating a petition and have formulated a statement with a series of demands: http://patch.com/A-pQTF
Mimi Glavin January 17, 2012 at 07:08 PM
As a "native" of San Luis Obispo, I remember when downtown SLO desperately needed to be revitalized. I recently found this 2008 article on Downtown Survival to be interesting: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Assets/PL/Housing/Downtown+Revitalization/Downtown+Revitalization+Strategies.pdf. The author suggests that a revived center will need 1) a sense of place, of history and of meaning and 2) keeping the downtown business district authentic with local merchants who sell unique products and services AS WELL AS "ubiquitous chains" found in typical communities. Perhaps...just perhaps...we need (and already have, as Lisa suggests) both. Many local residents express a longing for some of the classic chain stores. On the other hand, would I want one of my "chain store" competitors setting up camp right next door to my businesses? I'm not opposed to competition, but I can't say that I would be a happy camper in that scenario.

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