Temple’s beloved Dunkin’ Donuts has closed. Now we have no place to buy quality doughnuts, no place to pick up a cup of top-notch coffee and no warm, furnished haven to sit and chat with friends on cold evenings.
But wait. Is this something we should really be sad about? Dunkin’ Donuts is, after all, a chain store. It’s everywhere. It’s a sign of globalization – of everything in the world losing its individual personality and taking on the characteristics of Cultural Void Inc.
As college students, we are supposed to live up to an assumed reputation for railing against commercialism. We are supposed to understand the importance of small mom and pop stores, where employees have personalities not dictated by corporate codes of conduct, and where the food, for better or worse, has its own unique taste.
Since we attend Temple, we are supposed to support diversity. Supporters of chains cannot be supporters of diversity; they are contradicting ideals. In preparation for this column, I randomly surveyed students as they exited Liacouras Walk’s 7-Eleven. I wanted to note their reactions to the loss of Dunkin’ Donuts, the proliferation of chain stores and globalization in general. The results of my survey were a bit harrowing.
Sadly, about a third of those surveyed saw no problem with globalization and chain stores, while another third admitted they hadn’t given the issue much thought. But the remaining third showed a curious tendency: They viewed chain stores negatively, but still admitted they went to Dunkin’ Donuts. For them, it was a guilty pleasure – a pleasure that occasionally needed to be rationalized.
“Globalization is kind of disgusting and imperialistic,” said Nick Peterson, a graduate student in the department of English, adding that he was “opposed to capitalist homogenization.” However he also admitted that he “used to guiltily go to Dunkin’ Donuts for a snack.”
As freshman Samuel Hines walked out of the 7-Eleven, he told me, “I tend not to support chain stores.” But he also said he’ll “kind of miss Dunkin’ Donuts.” I noticed a conflict, which Hines, a music education major, was able to rationalize: “Dunkin’ Donuts had the best coffee,” he said.
I realized in the course of my interviews that it’s not that some of us aren’t bothered by the proliferation of chain stores. Dunkin’ Donuts was the only place we could buy quality coffee and it was the only business on campus that remotely resembled a cafe. The aspect that people seemed to miss the most about Dunkin’ Donuts was the area of the store that had tables and couches. “It was a good place to go and sit down,” said Lisa Jenkins, a freshman psychology major.
Freshman Lisa Howe suggested an excellent solution: “If they turned the empty space into a coffee house – a mom and pop business concentrated on getting good products for fair prices – I would go there.” Yes, That’s it! We need a mom and pop coffee house. For many Temple students, Dunkin’ Donuts was a source of cognitive dissonance: We went there guiltily because we didn’t have anything else that resembled a cafe.
If Temple concentrated on attracting a small coffee shop instead of another chain store to the space left vacant by Dunkin’ Donuts, this cognitive dissonance would disappear. Those of us who care could rest easier knowing that we’d be able to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee without contributing to the demise of culture.
Daniel J. Kristie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.