I have a place in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. For those of you not familiar with the area, Wellfleet is a quaint coastal community in lower Cape Cod. Thanks to President Kennedy, from a development perspective, not much has changed in the lower Cape since 1961 when he signed a bill creating the Cape Cod National Seashore. In essence, the bill ensured land that was not developed at the time would remain untouched and so it has. Wellfleet’s business ecosystem had been made up of local businesses and until recently, there wasn’t a chain store in the town. That all changed a week ago when a Dunkin Donuts opened.
Who knew donuts and coffee could be the center of a raging controversy? Many locals and visitors are up in arms at having a DD in Wellfleet. They equate the chain with evil. They worry about the impact it will have on other local businesses. Many see DD as a “gateway drug” that will lead to an invasion of even bigger chains. I totally understand and respect their perspective, but I have a different one.
I don’t see DD as evil. I also don’t see chain stores as black and white. There is a lot of grey. The first Dunkin Donuts was opened as a Mom & Pop shop in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1950. It has since grown into a successful brand that is loved around the world. DD serves 2.7 million customers a day. Clearly they are doing something right and are valued by many people. Their customers are mostly blue collar workers. I think they offer a great cup of coffee at a fair price and have consistent quality. Unlike many local coffee shops, Dunkin Donuts offers its employees full medical and dental benefits, something many lower Cape residents desperately need. The employees at the Wellfleet shop are welcoming locals who appear happy to be employed by the chain.
I think Dunkin Donuts did a nice job maintaining the brand while integrating into the quaintness of the town. The best thing they did was upgrade a fugly, deserted building that had been an eye sore in the town since the A&P supermarket closed back in the seventies (I think). They put in a bunch of landscaped islands filled with ornamental grass throughout the parking lot that made the vastness of the empty lot more visually appealing. They also added visual enhancements to a building that for too long looked like an out of place, abandoned strip mall.
Although I now get my coffee at DD, I still buy local 99% of the time when I am in Wellfleet. I buy my produce at Hatches produce stand and get my fish next door at Hatch’s Fish Market (yes, they spell the names differently). I only eat at local restaurants when on the Cape. My three oldest kids work in restaurants, so I tip generously because I understand restaurant staff live and die by their tips. Every other commerce transaction I have in Wellfleet is with a local business. I honestly don’t believe going to DD is a bad thing and believe you can still support local businesses while occasionally frequenting a chain.
Dunkin Donuts good or evil? My vote is for good! What’s your vote and why?
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