In what can be considered another step
toward the complete “Starbuckization” of State Street, a new Jimmy
John’s will soon replace the late Famous Famiglia on the corner of
East William and State streets. This incident is only a small step
in the larger issue of homogenization that has been taking over Ann
Arbor during the past several years. Small businesses have
repeatedly been driven out, limiting student choice.

While Famiglia was also a fast-food chain and the new Jimmy
John’s isn’t directly pushing out a local business, the fact
remains that due to high rent and insufficient local incentives,
only large, expansionistic corporations can afford to move into
these prime locations. The establishment of yet another Jimmy
John’s echoes the efforts of corporate America that seeks to wipe
out all competition. First of all, there are already three Jimmy
John’s in the local vicinity. A fourth one makes sense only when
looked at through Starbucks’ model of growth, which dictates that
Starbucks cafes should be so densely packed as to oversaturate the
market and operate at a near loss until competition is
eliminated.

Furthermore, the corner of William and State streets is a
prominent location in downtown Ann Arbor. There is only a limited
amount of space available in such close proximity to the
University. Another Jimmy John’s keeps other, more diverse shops
from being established there. This valuable space could be utilized
to promote the quirky culture of Ann Arbor

A fourth Jimmy John’s is simply the latest step in the larger
problem of the homogenization of Ann Arbor. Ever since the
establishment of the first Starbucks, larger corporations have been
pushing out local businesses at an alarming rate. In the case of
Jimmy John’s, the community’s range of sandwich selection is not
improved at all. As a result of this homogenization, a can culture
is being created in Ann Arbor. Much of the uniqueness and
originality of the small shops of the Ann Arbor of yore has been
lost.

Often, when a small, local business is bought out by a larger
franchise or chain store, the rent of the surrounding area is
increased by landlords attempting to capitalize on the deep pockets
of corporate America. As a result, only larger businesses will be
able to afford residence there in the future. The effects of the
new Jimmy John’s will not only be felt in this isolated case. Their
influence will reach far into the future of Ann Arbor
businesses.

Ann Arbor should work to assist local businesses with this
increasing rent. If the city wants to preserve the unique shopping
experience, it needs to act fast or our downtown will blend into a
bland landscape, indistinguishable from any other town.

 

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