Why These Montana Town Residents Object To Having A Starbucks

Starbucks opened its first store in Seattle back in 1971 and by 2007, the one outlet coffee shop had turned into a global giant with 15,000 stories worldwide (via Britannica). And yet, it took 47 years for the chain to step foot in Italy, as it was only in 2018 that the country saw its first Starbucks with a grand 25,000-square-feet roastery in Milan (via Forbes). Aside from the rich coffee drinking culture that Italians pride themselves on, one of the many reasons Starbucks took so long to open in Italy, University of Pennsylvania's assistant professor Eva Del Soldato says, is because Italians view franchises and multinational corporations with suspicion. Consumer groups even lodged complaints against Starbucks for selling coffees at prices far above the average norm in Milan.

As Starbucks gears up to open its first outlet in the small town of Livingston in Montana, the global coffee chain is facing a similar reception as it did from the people of Milan, and there is a petition to keep the coffee company out of Livingston. While residents of Livingston recognize why Starbucks might want to open a store in the town to cater to the tastes of tourists, they say that local businesses and small coffee shops will take a considerable hit (via KULR8).

Starbucks might have an adverse affect on local coffee shops

The Executive Director of the Livingston Business Improvement District explains that "Livingston has a wealth of locally-owned small coffee shops and kiosks that not only fuel the community with caffeine and tasty treats but serve as community social hubs" (via KULR8). Additionally, officials say that local businesses contribute 250% more to the town than global corporations like Starbucks do and argue that when spending money on local businesses, the value of a dollar quadruples for the town's economy. Residents are also not happy with the effect a corporate coffee shop like Starbucks will have on Livingston's old school and historic "downtown charm."

Starbucks, per KULR8, has since released a statement with "Wake Up Montana" sharing that they hope to coexist with local businesses in the same community. "We know our customers are passionate about coffee as well as their local businesses, and we believe independent stores and small chains can continue to grow and thrive along with Starbucks," a spokesperson for the corporate company stated. 

Livingston residents, however, have started a petition that requests Starbucks to keep out of the town. Currently, there are 1,759 signatures of the 2,500 requested and a few comments on the petition as well, citing support for local businesses. "If this Starbucks location fails, Starbucks as a company will be just fine...but if a local coffee shop is driven out of business, the losses are great for the locals owning and operating it. Prioritizing local businesses in a town with high tourism traffic benefits all," says a Livingston resident in the comments.