Reprinted from Facebook, with permission
-By Malinda Leahy, Reading Room Bookstore and Cafe
As you may be well aware by now, the impending addition of Tim Horton’s in Sooke has been quite the topic of conversation. With so many people asking us our opinion, and with the Sooke Chamber of Commerce open meeting coming up, we thought this might be a good time to explain our feelings on the matter. (Spoiler alert: it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s totally fine.)
Tim Horton’s is an American-owned company. This means that due to the weak Canadian dollar, every capital expenditure they make now goes 40% further (this is also why Lowe’s suddenly took the opportunity to buy RONA). Pretty much EVERY company operating in Canada with foreign holdings now has the option to make capital investments without actually increasing the amount of money they have already budgeted.
As a locally-owned small business with foreign assets, we have also taken advantage of the situation by increasing salaries (we are very proud to say that NO ONE at our business makes minimum wage), changing to local suppliers as much and as quickly as possible (Sooke first, then the Island, then BC, and we are always looking to do better), increasing the quality of our offerings without increasing price (have you tried our new coffee?!), and making MANY more charitable donations and investments in the local arts/culture infrastructure than we would have been able to under conditions of economic parity. (Sometimes our staff members tease us: “Don’t they want to make any money??” Well, sure we do! Because the more money we take in, the more we can immediately reinvest into scaling the business to the size the community ACTUALLY demands from it. But we also understand that, in order to have a sustainable business that can last in perpetuity, that business must give AT LEAST as much as it takes in, or eventually, there will be NO money left in the local economy for ANY spending at ANY business, local or otherwise.)
From our perspective, the debate about large corporations is understandable, simply because the fundamental mechanics are always the same. EVERY non-local business, in every community, the world over, has one model that makes it work: invest less money into a local economy than you siphon away from it to your corporate HQ. That’s why we’ve seen so many interesting accounting analyses of the “benefit” that more low-wage jobs will actually offer to Sooke vs. the drain of those corresponding businesses on our community. Invariably, these numbers ALWAYS end up netting a negative gain to the locals, because they are specifically engineered by the companies to net a positive to the business.[sam id=”15″ codes=”true”]We understand this system to be simply “the way the world works,” but instead of trying to fight off Tim Horton’s (which we love that so many people are commenting is inevitable, because we also agree that it mostly is), we are, instead, choosing to do what we can in a positive manner by attempting to balance the parasitic relationship of non-local businesses to our economy by making sure that when someone spends a dollar at our business, as much of that dollar stays as close to home as possible (see above about how we are taking advantage of our personal foreign asset holdings to help Sooke). We are also working to bring in customers from OUTSIDE of Sooke so that we don’t just keep recycling the same dollars, but actually provide a boost to the Sooke domestic product.
So yes, we know there is controversy over the addition of Tim Horton’s, but we also know that the problems of non-local corporations and their effects on the economies that they service are going to be there for as long as we live in a corporately-driven, global economic system. Given that we also feel the addition of Tim Horton’s to Sooke is inevitable, and given that we understand how many local people would enjoy having the products offered by this business, we are of the opinion that we, as a community, should probably take advantage of the offering from Tim Horton’s to expand into Sooke now, because if we don’t, we may miss the window of their willingness to apply capital to our needs, and end up having to pay more out of our own Sooke pockets in order to make it happen later. (In other words, it’s now or never folks; and “never” is not, realistically, an option!)
As for how Tim Horton’s will affect the Reading Room… Well, we shall see if the new franchise owner/store manager spends THEIR next STAT holiday building an online automated sales tracking system to help sustain local artists and their micro-businesses as they look to market their products in Sooke. IF the Tim Horton’s management is willing to invest in such a thing, and IF they can do it better and with more care than we can, then the economy will vote with their dollars, and the businesses that Sooke ends up with will be the ones they deserve. That is simply the dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest aspect to free-market economics, and we welcome EVERY challenge from a competitor to get better at doing what we do in order to support SOOKE.
Malinda Leahy, Owner
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