The knock on chain stores is that they hurt community. Starbucks comes in, drives your local café out of business, and a chummy group of neighbors turns into a bunch of anonymous latte drones.
But is it true? Anthropologists from the University of West Virginia recently published an article based on observations at six Boston-area coffee shops—three independently owned (Pavement Coffee House in Copley Square, 1369 Coffee House in Central Square, and Diesel
Café in Davis Square) and three Starbucks locations. Their intention was to determine how effectively Starbucks outposts provide the community-based environment associated with a traditional coffee shop—as the song goes, a place where “everybody knows your name.”