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Davis, California

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Editorial: Go small or go home

On March 28, owners of Common Grounds Coffee in South Davis posted a Facebook status announcing that their landlord refused to renew their lease in favor of a Starbucks, closing its doors on March 31 after 13 years of business.

A week later, the owners announced that they will open again in three months, thanks to customer support. The owners made an agreement with their landlord to move to a location adjacent to the shop’s previous location.

This is sadly part of a growing trend, where local businesses are displaced by chain stores.

As a city known for its small-town feel and sustainable transportation practices, it’s disconcerting to see small businesses known for their unique quirks or specializations disappearing. And it’s not just because we like having things that others can’t have.

Independent businesses are struggling to stay afloat due to increased competition from online retailers, the presence of more big-box retailers and high rent costs, to name a few. Operating costs can also get quite expensive over time.

Additionally, the term “land oligopoly” is being thrown around as a reference to how so few people own a majority of the commercial real estate in Davis, a big influence over the costs of rent.

Common Grounds is just one example of a small local business facing setbacks. Davis has lost several other independent businesses in recent years, such as the Wash Mill Laundromat and Rostini Italian Kitchen, with high rent and high operating costs cited as respective reasons for their closures.

Meanwhile, we’ve had Whole Foods, Panera, Forever 21, Habit Burger and Pinkberry open up, taking precious consumer dollars. And Wingstop is on its way.

We’re not saying we never shop at these big-box stores — who doesn’t want to stock up on cheap generics? But we also don’t want Davis to lose its character.

According to the Davis Downtown Business Association’s (DDBA) website, six cents of every dollar spent at a big-box retailer is recirculated in the community and 20 cents of every dollar spent at a chain store is recirculated in the community, whereas 60 cents of every dollar spent at an independent retailer is recirculated.

“A dollar spent at a locally-owned store is usually spent six to 15 times before it leaves the community,” the website stated.

In addition, small businesses create more local jobs, buy more of their goods and services locally (which lessens environmental impact), give back to the community more and increase sales tax revenue, according to the DDBA.

We hope chain stores and small businesses can coexist. As customers did for Common Grounds, we encourage individuals to show continued support for local businesses because, really, there’s no place like home.


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