Not Another Starbucks

Starbucks, KingstonMany folks in the former Steeltown used to joke that you could not make a left turn anywhere in the city without passing by a Tim Hortons. Nowadays, that’s actually not too far from the truth in most of Canada’s urban areas, while Kingston seems to gain one new store per year.  Recently the Limestone City went one step further with an announcement that Timmie’s would construct a new $45-million distribution centre on 58 acres in the St. Lawrence Business Park.  With a cult following that is hard to explain, you’d think that Tim’s had cornered the local java market, but then there’s Seattle’s big brand who charges upwards of five times as much per cup.  With yet another new location opening up in Kingston, I’m getting a little tired of Starbucks.

A few months after we published our first post in the series that looked at the state of downtown Kingston’s store vacancies, closures and potential openings, Second Cup pulled out of their choice location on the corner of Princess and Sydenham.  For a brief second I was cautiously optimistic that Coffeeco would jump at the opportunity, but sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.  So there it was, another downtown storefront with windows darkened by crate paper and a for lease sign on display.  Fast forward to October 2010 where a handful of those downtown commercial vacancies have become home to deep fryers and burger joints, while the emptiness at the aforementioned corner will be filled by yet another Starbucks.  I guess we can’t have our cake and eat it too.

If you take one step back onto Princess Street, and carefully watch out for traffic, you’ll quickly notice that Starbucks already operates a franchise two stores up from the corner, on the second floor of Indigo.  While I’ve been unable to confirm whether or not this cafe will remain once the new franchise opens, I wouldn’t put it past them to keep both in place.  It wouldn’t be the first black eye Starbucks has given downtown Kingston, as one of their first stores opened two doors up from our beloved Sleepless Goat.  I can still remember the fresh paint on that store’s window, which read something akin to “Starbucks kills babies”.  In any case, thankfully the Goat’s loyal clientele aren’t the sort who are swayed by the competition, or their instant coffee.

So why am I so perturbed by yet another Starbucks?  I guess it comes down to choice, or rather a lack thereof.  If the local coffee market is saturated by any single brand, it makes it really difficult for independent shops like Coffeeco, the Mug and Truffle and all the rest to compete and prosper.  One of my favourite things about visiting other cities is trying out and supporting restaurants that we don’t have in the Limestone City.  I would hate it if visitors to Kingston saw nothing but familiar brands and logos in our downtown.  Perhaps my quaint vision of what downtown Kingston should resemble is too idealistic, and I admit that I crave some of the chains from time to time.  That said, without places like Sima, Megalo’s and even the Brew Pub, we would be indistinguishable from every other city.

Special thanks to eyeliam for today’s photo of la resistance in Portland.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

50 thoughts on “Not Another Starbucks

  • I find it especially annoying in light of Richard Ottenhoff's tweet from April while he was looking for a new downtown location: "It looks like the landlord is moving another existing tenant into the vacant Second Cup.We'll keep looking!" This after he submitted an offer to lease.

  • The irony in your post is that you appear to have had no problem with the location being a Second Cup (another big, albeit not Starbucks-scale, chain), but object to it being a Starbucks.

    I have no problem with Starbucks being downtown. But I do find it an odd combination of hilarious and ludicrous that they feel the need to have two stores within (literally) spitting distance of one another.

    • I didn't have a problem with the previous tenant, Second Cup, because it was their only location in the City. A weak argument, perhaps, but at least Second Cup is a Canadian franchise. I think their headquarters are still in the GTA, but not sure now that they're owned by the same group behind Swiss Chalet, Harvey's, Montana's etc…

      Should Starbucks keep both locations, they're clearly trying to make it so that no coffee shops can survive downtown.

      • "Should Starbucks keep both locations, they're clearly trying to make it so that no coffee shops can survive downtown."

        Not sure it's that simple. I imagine it will be very easy for Starbucks to move into that location, and strategically, such an ideal location/set-up is rare. Now they aren't reliant on Indigo to maintain their presence in the downtown core here.

        • I think you may have misunderstood. What I meant was that by opening up another store, Starbucks could be making it way too difficult for the independent cafes to make a buck. I am not sure this new store is ultimately the tipping point, but you have to wonder how long the likes of Sipps, Mug and Truffle etc… can last if franchised competition keep opening up.

          The new location is a great place for a coffee shop. I'm not arguing that, and hey maybe Starbucks would pull out of Indigo. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Bottom line is that I would have rather seen something new, exciting and totally local be given a shot at that location.

          • Absolutely, I agree completely that it would have been nice if something new and different could have gotten use of that location.

            Not sure a local start-up business could afford that location though – Keystone properties don't come cheaply, so no matter what, it was probably always going to be corporate. Quiznos old location (also Keystone) downtown has sat empty for so long for a reason, Quiznos was paying something in the area of $6k a month for lease. I imagine Vinny's is probably about $1k a month for lease, and it's not far from being directly across the street.

            Not a dig at Keystone, since they really take care of their properties, and that good care adds a lot to the value of our downtown. But the high price-tags their properties command also lead to storefronts being empty for a lot longer than they need be.

            Personally, I was holding out for a pub to open there. We need more pubs up this area, having to walk 2 blocks to get a pint is hellish! :P

  • A downtowner for 20 years, I have watched the local cafe scene with great interest. The greatest cafe losses we have had during that time were the Italian Pastry Shop, the Chinese Laundry cafe, and the original Town Crier as created by Mr. Ottenhoff. Since then we saw the opening and closing of GrabbaJabba, the second incarnation of Town Crier, the cafe that was where the Tea Room is now (sorry–name escapes me), and most recently Second Cup. Alas…

    But the circle of life goes on and we have seen the arrival of new kids on the block such as Coffee and Company, The Sleepless Goat, CafeEco, Sipps, Starbucks, and Mug and Truffle. Each are distinct destinations and each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

    I was distressed at the damage and graffiti done to the Wellington Street Starbucks location when it was being converted from its recent past as 8 different retail stores in 3 years. The beloved dirty hippies of the Goat need not have fretted so much. Their worker-owned commune is doing just fine, thank you very much, with a steady and loyal crowd who have surely voted with their feet and wallets. As for Second Cup, I suspect the chain is preferring malls to downtown cores but who knows. Their coffee is not as good as other options so perhaps folks decided to migrate to greener pastures.

    Starbucks has every right to open up where it chooses. We live in a free, market-based society, which means you also have tons of choice. If you believe Starbucks is the devil incarnate then by all means never let your body enter their doors. But do recall that in retail we rely on "anchor" stores to be the driving magnet for customers. You need foot traffic to make and sustain a retail business.

    The hand-wringing over Starbucks reminds me of when Gap was first coming to the downtown. The naysayers felt it would be the death of the local clothes vendor. On the contrary, downtown Kingston now has the best selction and variety of clothing stores it has ever had. Can it improve? Definitely, but stores such as Gap, Indigo, Urban Outfitters, and even the Evil Green Coffee Store are anchors that bring bodies downtown over and over again.

    • I'm not saying that Starbucks doesn't have the right to open up a store downtown, rather I'm disappointed to see so many of them. As I think I said in a previous comment, the existence of too many Starbucks in a given area could result in not enough business for all of the small guys, and Starbucks for that matter. And when the dust settles and the independents have been forced to close, we're left with a consolidated number of Starbucks. In the end, the only choice is Starbucks, while the local flavor is altogether lost.

      As for the chain of Starbucks being an anchor for the downtown, that's laughable.

      • I don't even drink coffee, so I'm not an advocate for Starbucks or any coffee chain really, but given that since the opening of the Starbucks at Princess and Wellington, we've also seen the rise of Coffeeco and Sipps, both of which seem to be doing quite well (I've not included Mug and Truffle b/c they're still quite new). So I'm not sure whether I can agree that yet another Starbucks will spell the demise of the local coffee scene.

  • I wonder how Kingstonians will take to the new rules handed down to Starbucks' baristas today. Slow down and only make one drink at a time.

  • Might as well pitch in that Starbucks DOES intend on operating both locations, and insists that they will "not really compete with each other". Personally I consider that last statement to be nonsense, since I used to manage that Indigo store and know the traffic figures, which puts a large number of the Indigo Starbucks crowd as Starbucks customers only. Essentially I see it as a "why walk through all of Indigo to get to Starbucks when we can just go straight into the cafe 2 door down?" situation.

    Pretty sure Keystone owns the old Second Cup property and I recall hearing how annoyed the Second Cup operator was when his landlord allowed a huge competitor to open up inside another property so close. Not sure Keystone had much say on that one though. I suspect the Starbucks will remain in Indigo at least until their current lease term ends (they lease their space from Indigo), then they will re-evaluate whether or not it makes sense for it to remain open.

    I'm more curious what Indigo will do if Starbucks pulls out of the store. Will they re-open the old Indigo Cafe, or will they instead turn that space into retail place, making it one of the only stores in the company without a coffee shop inside?

  • Oh, grrr. I was sad to see CoffeEco not get that spot earlier this year. What a strange turn of events. Well, maybe all the students can monopolize the new Starbucks and I can finally get a table at Sipps.

  • I'm a big fan of Starbucks. They make the best coffee, hands-down. The current location at Princess and Wellington has very little seating, and the Indigo location is always packed with people, so it will be nice to be able to sit down and read while enjoying a Starbucks coffee.

    • Oh, you really need to go to Coffeeco is you think Starbucks is the best. Trust me, you'll be blown away.

  • I've never understood the attraction of a Starbucks coffee. Every one that I've ever had has been bitter and far too hot. High-caffeine blends have their place, but the entire menu?

    I've been told by one of the staff at Multatuli that a significant portion of the staff from the Johnson St. Starbucks cross the street to CoffeEco for their brew. Now, what does that say? ;-)

  • A couple of ‘bucks more than you’d like?
    Is that really the biggest concern for the proletariat at the Goat?
    I’d be more concerned about the Tim Horton infection, considering they are EVERYWHERE.
    And for all that hometown store schmaltz, once the tourists have forgotten us, the locals don’t/can’t/won’t support local to keep them going over the winter months, which is probably why some of the high turnovers mentioned.
    Mmmm, turnovers…

  • Starbucks coffee is dreadful. The place is basically a hot flavoured milkshake shop for people who don't actually like coffee.

    Haivng said that, they are perfectly at liberty to sell the stuff. However one of the the points of having decent urban planning policies should be to maintain a variety of shops and services in the downtown core (and IMHO, to prioritise local businesses). Allowing any multinational chain the ability to have two locations in the same area runs counter to this – plus this is actually the third downtown Starbucks – they have another oppositve Coffeeco.

    Basically, there appears to a complete lack of vision and courage in Kingston local government, and they certainly have almost no idea how to regulate (and this means working with as well as just establishing rules for) property developers and site owners for the long-term benefit of the city and its people, not just for short-term profits.

    • Agree with the idea to prioritize local businesses, but we all know that the courage to make that sort of thing happen is lacking. Plus opponents would argue that it goes against the idea of the free market. Depending on where you draw the line, the new location will actually be Starbucks' 4th downtown shop. They're presently at: 95 Princess, 259 Princess, 109(ish) Division, and the new cafe will be at 253(ish) Princess. Timmies on the other hand only has two. I wonder how long it will be until they open up another franchise downtown?

      • My simple answer to the people who just say 'free market' to everything is that there is no such thing except in economic theory, and in the real world, all markets operate within frames that are set by regulation (at many different levels from local to transnational). The key thing is to provide the best framing conditions in which markets can operate to serve our long-term interests (and of course, to decide in the first place what those interests are).

        • It's a shame Kingston lacks a unified voice. I remember a couple years back when Starbucks was trying to open a location in the heart of Kensington Market in Toronto. Thousands of people signed petitions and made their voices heard that they didn't want a Starbucks in their neighbourhood. Starbucks knew they were in for a battle and never moved into the location.

          It's also a shame that people get stuck in their routines. I can't count the number of times I have people ask me where they can get a coffee downtown. I get asked this at the farmer's market numerous times daily. I always suggest Sipps, Cookes, Mug and Truffle, The Goat, and Coffee & Co. but more often than not after I point them towards one or two of these locations the next words out of their mouth are 'well where's the closest Starbucks?'.

          • there's the answer -supply and demand – do you think that Starbucks corporate would just open a new downtown store just for fun, and risk diluting their market share? I dare say there is STILL room enough for everyone to get their chosen caffeine on at any of these venues. Room for everyone I say.

  • I wonder what kind of deal the Second Cup owner got? Did Second Cup go under? I gather no Starbucks are franchised…so that says to me they're out. Too bad too, seems to me that shop was around forever and I like to see family run business…franchises or not(preference towards the latter).

  • Planning policies can regulate what goes onto a particular site, not who, especially when it's private property.

  • I guess another question would be: If Smoke's Poutinerie were to have opened a second location, say, where The Poutine Place is now, would we be wringing our hands over the survival of Bubba's?

  • This whole argument is weird and immature. If Starbucks is thriving it's because Kingstonians are voting with their dollars. Customers aren't being flown in to ensure the business thrives, the customers are Kingstonians. These companies are providing jobs. Starbucks, Tim Horton's, etc hire local staff, they don't ship them in from a third world country either. Whether you like a particular company or not, that's your choice, it's not a reason to have or not have a particular brand on a particular street corner. It's not up to city planners to decide which flavour of coffee residents might want. If they started dictating those kind of small minded decisions, Kingston really will become an unfriendly place to do business, and downtown really would become a pit of nothingness.

    Businesses should be elastic, able to change and adapt to the current market conditions. If a "local" business doesn't thrive, it's because they were too rigid. If you really want to see another local business, then open one.

    It's one thing to say you like a particular thing or not, it's quite another to try and dictate whether other people who like that thing can have access to it. Only simple minded individuals would attempt the latter. Of course, the argument would be different if the thing is deemed dangerous, coffee doesn't fall under this category.

    • Starbucks are not being excluded – in fact, as has already been pointed out they already have three other locations here.

      And no, it isn't up to city planner to decide what flavour of coffee people like (and no-one is suggesting it is – this is a straw man). However it is up to city planners (representing the longer term social interests of the city) to ensure the viability and variety of the downtown area.

      As I said above, "in the real world, all markets operate within frames that are set by regulation (at many different levels from local to transnational). The key thing is to provide the best framing conditions in which markets can operate to serve our long-term interests (and of course, to decide in the first place what those interests are)."

      That is what politics is to a large extent all about. It's the all-too-widespread idea that economics is somehow beyond politics and that we should just accept whatever 'the market' does as good and just, or simply just unavoidable or inevitable, that restricts this. And by the way, your statement that people 'are voting with their dollars' is exactly what I am talking about. People vote with their votes (which are equally distributed – we all have a vote regardless of our wealth), they spend with their dollars (which are not – wealth is not evenly distributed). You can't derive politics or decisions about macro-economic management solely from micro-economic (purchasing) decisions in an unequal market. Citizenship is more than consumerism.

      (And, personally, I would avoid suggesting that if people have a different political-economic opinion from yours, they are weird or immature).

    • Local businesses don't simply fail because they are rigid, many fail because of the economic reality of competing with large multinational corporations.

      In regards to Starbucks think of a locally owned and operated store like Sipps or the Mug and Truffle. These stores can only purcahse so much stock. Corporations like Starbucks can purchase thousands of times as much stock and therefore can both buy and sell their products at lower prices. In this type of world it is basically impossible for local stores to compete without people going out of their way to provide them with support.

      Think of Walmart. Walmart can often sell products for a price lower than small businesses can even purchase their stock for. It is impossible for small business to compete with them. Also consider that Walmart has closed entire stores who have tried to unionize. Not only do they sell their products at artificially low prices, they often pay their employees less than a local business.

      These types of companies don't operate in a fluid way, they dictate the way we live. It is these reasons why people have protested the opening of Walmarts, Starbucks, and McDonalds stores around the world. The free market no longer exists, its an archaic relic of a theory that no longer applies to our world.

      • Given how high the mark-up is on coffee, and the fact that Starbucks is very far from cheap, I am not sure they are in any way pricing local coffee shops out of business. Brand strength and image is the primary problem here, Starbucks is seen as a "hip" place to go for coffee. It's the Apple Computers of coffee shops, reassuringly expensive, even if it's just a facade.

        This is a problem that can be overcome with quality product and service, location, competitive pricing, and doing something Starbucks cannot – marketing specific to your local community. I don't think Coffee & Company downtown is going anywhere anytime soon, nor is Coffeeco. Mug & Truffle may struggle due to their awkward location, same goes for Sipps.

        I am more far concerned about the Lowes they are building up on Gardners, since it may harm Rona, which is a Canadian company. Just what Canada needs, another giant US chain invading all of our cities. Pretty soon it will be difficult to distinguish between being in Canada and the US when shopping, and that makes me sad.

    • Access to Starbucks is most definitely not a problem in downtown Kingston. Those who are opposed to more stores feel that way because there are two more within a 2 minute (or 2 second in the case of Indigo) walk away from the new one. We just don't want to see the downtown core saturated with one coffee shop.

      It's easy to tell local retailers to be more flexible but they don't have nearly as many options as a franchise that has a corporation and a ton of money backing them. I don't hate Starbucks but I do hate it when local businesses can't thrive because giant companies plant themselves on every corner with the purpose of getting rid of other shops. What I've always loved about downtown Kingston are the unique shops and restaurants and I believe those are the things that attract tourists to the downtown core for shopping and eating. You can go to Starbucks anywhere….and again, there are already two right down the street.

  • I do not understand this as well. A few years ago people from a nearby establishment protested that Starbucks drive away other coffeeshops. Yet, under the same breath we hear 4 dollar cofee. So tell me how do you drive out the competition by offering something much expensive? As for the $4 cup off coffee arguement, I have not seen it. ( I am not talking about specialty coffee) I have paid around $1.80 for coffee at Starbucks. makes me wonder if the complianers actually go to Starbucks

  • No one forces you to go to Starbucks. Personally I think that Tim Hortons is both cheaper and better (and obviously it is desirable that they are creating distribution centre jobs in Kingston).

  • This is a silly article. Starbucks is just fine. We have a lot more Tim Hortons and I don't hear you complaining about that. They bring jobs and it seems quite a lot of people actually like their product so what is your problem with Starbucks exactly. Sure they are a franchise but, so are MANY other businesses in Kingston. The days of every single store being mom and pop really are over. Some of the stores we have now are actually handy and nice to have around. I've enjoyed having Starbucks in Kingston…

    • I think a lot of you are missing the point. Yes, we have lots of Tim Horton's in Kingston but none of them are next door to each other. I think Harvey (and a lot of other people here who agree that Starbucks isn't "just fine") is not so much concerned about another Starbucks, but moreso the fact that's it within a block of two other stores. Why do we need the same franchises over and over again? Yes, franchises do rule these days but how about changing it up a bit? Let's see a Timothy's or something else entirely that, gasp!, doesn't serve coffee? Variety is the spice of life.

      • Go to Division/401 and you see two Tim Hortons across the street from another. One is a full Timmies and other is drive thru in an Esso. Just as silly. And where the Starbucks is in same area, it replaced a smaller non-drive thru Tim Hortons that used to be there. They tore that down to build the new one. So for years there have been 2 Timmies within a stone's throw from another.

        I don't get the Tims/Starbucks distinction either. Both big corporations. Tims having everything frozen and no longer baked on the premises has bothered me for a while. Doughnuts just not the same. Why I go to Coffee Way at Division/Concession to pick some up. Out of the way for me but at least they make it fresh.

        Great line in a recent Macleans article about Tims.

        "the bottom line is this: your chocolate Timbit, a scrumptious ball of Canadiana, is now produced by a company from Switzerland. And it is still “Always Fresh” (i.e., frozen and reheated)."

        • You're right, there are two Timmies right next door to each other. I guess I missed that coming from Hamilton where there is a Tim's on just about every corner. Either way, my point remains the same, Tim's, Starbucks, MacDonald's….whatever the franchise, it really sucks to see them all on the same block.

        • AFAIC concerned, it's certainly not a question of Starbucks vs. Tim Horton's, it's about diversity and locality vs. b;and corporate homogeneity. I'm pretty sure that was the point of the article too.

  • I would like to see a third Starbucks downtown, closer to the hub perhaps? I hate chains generally, but Starbucks has a product far superior to most competitors. Besides, there is lots of room for coffee shops in town. It's one of the fastest growing beverage segments in the world.

    It is an economic "pat on the back" to have multinational chains choose to open in a community. It certainly doesn't mean that you have to frequent the establishment yourself. Anything is better than all the for lease signs we saw last year.

    • Agreed on these stores being better than empty shops…But isn't Division and Johnson close enough to the hub? It's 3 blocks! Maybe Starbucks isn't the problem…it's laziness.

    • There is a connection, howeve,r between the empty shops and the fact that multinationals fill those spaces: the rents are simply too high for local SMEs and start-ups. And the answer is rents. There is no shortage of people in the local area who have interesting ideas, want to start a business or rent a commercial space in the downtown. The obvious answer is to have economic incentives targeted at SMEs and local start-ups, and perhaps lower rents all round, and to be rather more proactive about seeking out innovative and interesting ideas for vacant spaces (you know, to actually have a local economic plan for a start…).

      • Location location location…why would a landlord be so benevolent in the midst of the highest tourist traffic in downtown? The good ideas of independent business folks can be implemented…but why not try a store on montreal street or in some of the areas on the north side of town? People need to realize that before a lot of Brooklyn became hip again…you needed some people with some intestinal fortitiude to go into the ghettos to start businesses. The rents are cheaper and the town is small enough to make travel to the stores a non issue. There is a LOT of Kingston close to downtown that is ripe for opportunity. The landlords know that downtown is prime real estate…why should they be charitable to independent businesses when multinationals will guarantee a steady income and a better shot at a long term relationship? Business is not charity….sorry but most cities in the United States are multinational…why should Canada be any different

  • For those who didn't see the update elsewhere, Coffeeco recently announced that they'll be opening up their third location at 250 Ontario Street. I'm very excited to see them firmly plant themselves downtown, and can honestly say that they'll be seeing a lot more of me when they open. Not only is it prime real estate, but it's also a respectable distance away from The Goat, Mug and Truffle, Sipps and so forth.

  • Ho-hum. I like the idea of Cofeeco, and their coffee is okay, so I am pleased to see them doing well, but they are going to have to do better with the quality of their food – stale pastries don't really cut it, IMHO. I've tried both locations several times, but they haven't persuaded me to be a regular. I'll stick to the Goat for the coffee (but avoid anything that comes out of their kitchen), and Sipps if I need a major sugar hit too!

    • I've never tried the food at Coffeeco but love the coffee. The one time I tried coffee at the Goat it was really bad and flavourless. Maybe I tried the wrong one… As for their food, I LOVE the food at the Goat. What's wrong with it? There are so many options you just can't get elsewhere and the veg selection is fantastic.

      • Every time (and I mean every time, no exaggeration) we've eaten a proper meal there there at least one person in the party has been ill afterwards. I love the place and I have my morning coffee and muffin there just about every weekday, but I am not convinced about the cleanliness of the kitchen or the standards of hygeine. I've never had any problem with the cakes and stuff from the front though.

        But it's just about the only place in town that makes proper coffee of a decent strength and depth. However, being a co-op of many and varied people, this does sometimes depend on who is working at any one time… and I have heard a couple of other reports similar to yours. Never experienced it myself though.

        • I've not had the same problems/experience with the food at the Goat, but a majority of my visits are typically for coffee only. Breakfast has always been good, and problem free.

          Not to keep tooting the Coffeeco horn, but the link I included above includes the following bit regarding their new location and the enhanced capability of the kitchen. "This space comes complete with a fully operational and inspected commercial kitchen which will enable us to expand the baked and savoury items on offer at our existing locations." Promising for those who might be looking for another option downtown. Personally, it can't get here soon enough!

  • I was going to ask where 250 Ontario Street might be but found it on the Google Street View (which seems to have been updated quite recently – Sir Gawain was closed). Er, 250… it's a bit small isn't it?
    It's bad enough trying to get a seat for ten minutes in the main Coffee&Co (haven't students got anywhere else to park their laptops for four hours?) but I don't see the tiny new location being much help.
    My daughter, who's much more 'up' on these matters, made me promise, some years ago, never to go into a Starbucks…. I think I'll have to ask her to update me on that. (Don't tell her but I've broken my promise a couple of times – when I needed an emergency coffee and couldn't park my ass in Coffee&Co).

    Sipps, Mug and Truffle, yes, I'll have to give them another go.

  • Ah – I made a mistake! I thought 'Coffeeco' meant 'Coffee and Co', which is where I've had my disappointments above. I've since discovered the Coffeeco on Johnson and I'm now a fan – so to have one in Ontario Street is really good news….. and I realise now that the premises are much bigger than I first thought. With the excellent Ruffled Feather also on that street, and soon to be joined (opposite) by the 'Locavore' produce store, the range of my wanderings around the city in search of quality have just been reduced. I wonder if there's a chance that Curry Original might get a bit more sensible with their prices, Lone Star follow suit and then the S&R building turns out to be something interesting. Then, if somebody decides to develop the eyesore that is the empty (but probably, and sadly, lucrative) car parking patch on Ontario Street between Brock and Princess.

    Talking of development…… anybody that knows Montreal or Quebec City will know the 'artists markets' between buildings and down narrow streets. They attract the crowds, add to the colour and generate lots of activity in their areas. So….. how about Kingston (the city) buying up some of that small patch of wasteland on the west side of Brock Street, nearly opposite Cooke's? A decent surface and a quality awning would be all it needed, starting on the Brock side, to get a market going – we're always being told that Kingston has a thriving artistic society – what better place to sell their wares, at least in the summer? Or is Kingston's artistic community a little too precious to actually go and sell things? You saw it here first!

  • As much as you may not like Starbucks…there is an upside. Many people bemoan the empty stores downtown (less now..but still quite a few). Like it or not…a lot of people like the Seattle company…and one thing about these stores, the landlords rarely have to worry about switching tenants. We can all want the idyllic Kingston full of independent stores, but consistency and quality is something that is really difficult to maintain. Lets face it, there are a few gems in downtown Kingston, but there is an enormous swath of mediocrity…and yes, within the independent eateries/stores. A lot of the empty stores have nothing to do with the "greed landlord"…a lot of it has to do with a crappy product.

    Tim Hortons is a beloved chain…but arent you a little tired of seeing them all over this city too? It's hardly a novelty item. I wonder if the author wouldnt be so "tired" of Starbucks if it was Canadian owned? Or perhaps if the owner was more "like him" (wink, wink).

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