Every day I walk through the Student Center and pass Starbucks. Sometimes I stop for a coffee, but most days I do not, wondering if there is time for me to swing by the Ugly Mug before class instead. As I weigh my options, I find myself wondering why there isn’t more competition on campus.
Eastern Michigan University has the opportunity to support local businesses and the community, yet here we have granted a massive corporation a monopoly on perhaps the most important commodity on the college campus: caffeine.
I’d love to see the Ugly Mug on campus, but if they aren’t well-equipped to set up shop on school grounds, Eastern could still reach out to another Michigan coffee company, Lansing-based Biggby Coffee. They would have the resources to install a nice kiosk or small store in a building that would rival Starbucks.
Now, as a free market Libertarian, I do not buy into the economic arguments of “buy local.”
I believe this only works if you are the only community taking part in such a practice; if not, the other communities will no longer buy the products we specialize in. Example: imagine if people in other states decided to buy the cars produced there. In the south, they would much more
likely buy Honda, Hyundai and the rest. The key is value.
But, I do buy local. I buy local for service, but more importantly, I buy local for flavor.
Places like Starbucks are a well-oiled machine, but when something becomes so well oiled, they
often lose what feels like the craft of making good coffee. If there’s nothing else around, I’ll buy a Starbucks. I don’t dislike them as a company. I do not chant and hold signs outside of their headquarters. Still, we could do better.
I’ve sampled a whole lot of coffee, and the Ugly Mug is, in my opinion, the best coffee in the Detroit area. Their food and beverage quality, as well as their service, is top notch, and yet we do not take advantage of it. And if not the Ugly Mug, why not give Biggby a shot? Why do they get skipped over in favor of the hegemonic Starbucks?
I’m not advocating for the closure of Starbucks. They don’t need to be tossed out on their ears, because I know a number of people who love Starbucks. Though I think anyone who would choose Starbucks over the Mug, all things being equal, should get their head examined.
I want to see more choices for coffee on campus.
Isn’t that a good solution, and wouldn’t students like the choice?
Aren’t we big enough to offer another option?
The fact is, we are.
Pay attention to all of the stamped paper cups on campus, and you know people are making the walk to the Mug instead of choosing Starbucks. I like the idea of competition, and I think more choices can’t hurt.