A Publication of WTVP

So, we're getting a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme. To hear some people talk, this news is the best thing to happen to the Peoria area since Murray Baker enticed a tractor manufacturer to open a factory here.

Certainly, the stores already have loyal devotees. They'll come to a town with ready-made clientele-folks who will go out of their way to patronize them. Both Starbucks and Krispy Kreme are high on the list when it comes to the locally popular "Why don't we have…?" game.

I, too, welcome them to the community. Of course, that's easy for me to say since neither is a business publishing outfit. Both have an international following that reaches almost cult levels.

All this buzz conjures up the difference between "want" and "need." Do we want a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme? You bet. Do we need a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme? Well, that may depend on how we define "need."

There's that "comfort" need some chain stores and restaurants satisfy by fulfilling our expectations with consistent quality in their products and services. Recent forays to campuses with my college-bound daughter have been an eye-opener. One received a high mark because we counted seven Starbucks outlets on campus. They were everywhere: the bookstore, the university center, the college library, classroom buildings, etc. Given the prices Starbucks gets, I silently wondered if parents had to figure coffee costs in with tuition, dorm, and books. I'll find out; that's where she's going.

And there's the why-can't-we-get-a-good-cup-of-coffee-or-donut-in-town need. In my opinion, that rant isn't valid.

I can think of a couple little bakeries and donut shops I'll put up against anything. Before you write: Yes, I've had a Krispy Kreme. No, I wasn't impressed. No, it wasn't hot. Yes, I'm told the difference between a hot Krispy Kreme and a cold Krispy Kreme is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Nonetheless, Krispy Kreme and Starbucks have a loyal customer base any business would envy. Research says about 12 percent of gourmet coffee patrons visit four or more times a week (count me in that group).

The point is that we're nose to nose with another proverbial "local vs. chain" concern. Yet, if we talk about envy, any community should envy the number and quality of local, independent retailers who call the area home. And restaurants? Wow. If your list of favorite restaurants isn't loaded with some of the quaint, one-of-a-kind, excellent eateries around, you're just not getting out.

Sure, I'll go to Starbucks, and I'll go to Krispy Kreme. But I'll still stop at the same local places every morning for my cappuccino-skim milk, please. And I'll still treat morning guests in the office to the delectable muffins and pastries I get at a local bakery.

The point is that we can all hope the local consumption of gourmet coffee and donuts will go up accordingly. (Certainly, weight loss centers and doctors have to be licking their chops.)

Except for the success some communities have had in keeping Wal-Mart from their city limits, fighting the "progress" chains bring is a Quixotic effort.

The Canton library, for example, will reopen this month with a chain bookstore atmosphere. Patrons will enjoy a bistro-type setting, including easy chairs and even an electric fireplace.

Chain bookstores, hmm… Remember when Peoria had a few independent bookstores? IBI