My answer then was "affordable luxury." With its hints of Euro-sophistication--and unlike the BMW or Cote d' Azur vacation--a daily Starbucks stop did not break the bank. The clean, competent ambience of a Starbucks gave customers "imputed value" for their premium coffee purchase: They felt good for being able to afford something that was the best.
In its mission to give Starbucks customers convenient locations, the corporation has been charged as a predator stamping out independent coffee shops (by some circular logic where--surprise--90% of same indies didn't exist pre-Starbucks). Moreover, as Tim Harford (aka The Undercover Economist) relates, Starbucks willfully pays premium rents for those convenient locations. (Think of that Starbucks coffee bar in airport terminals, just past the security checkpoint.) It is the non-Starbucks landlord, not corporate Starbucks, making hefty profits.
But, Portland being Portland, the anti-Starbucks storyline plays well here. Localism rules. A proliferation of coffee shops rode the coattails of pioneer Starbucks, all with smug claims of being more organic, more fair-trading, more local (though the coffee plantations are far, far away).
The anti-Starbucks moral choice, alas, does little for my taste buds. And I've yet to see one Portland indie coffee shop compete by selling their drink for less.
But I did find one local independent coffee shop with a medium-roast bias that suited my taste. Ristretto, at their original location, roasted beans in a windowed room, not more than twelve feet from where I'd sit and enjoy an Americano. But they've since moved their roasting off-premises and bumped their prices way up, knowing what the market will bear when localism rules.
So much of the housing stock taking shape in Portland will be increasingly shaped by outside dollars, in effect, colonizing Portland with an abundance of IKEA-esque living spaces designed expressly for singletons, which given the wages in Portland, are no bargain.
So I've quit Ristretto. Besides, I've switched to tea. Kashmiri chais are my new affordable luxuries!
Image credit: Charlie Dickinson
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.
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3:26:15 Sacrificing for a Lower Water Bill
3:10:15 The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, a Book Review
2:5:15 Pinhead Books aka e-books
1:15:15 Good Riddance to Old-School Shaving!
12:20:14 Three Whys I Quit Reading a Book
12.12.14 the life-changing magic of tidying up, a book review
11.12.14 Oil Changes
10.17:14 Doomsday Preppers, a TV series review
9.30:14 The Trigger, a book review
9:10:14 Clipboard People
8:23:14 Ukraine Diaries, a book review
8:21:14 My Home Darkroom on a Shoestring
7:29:14 Right Speech
6:28:14 Pacific Power's Wily Ways
6:20:14 My New Clarks Sandals
5:31:14 Portland's Water Woes, Again
5:10:14 Faster Dial-Up
4:11:14 Update on Stockpiling Light Bulbs
4:10:14 The Next 100 Years, a book review
3:15:14 A Cruel and Shocking Act, a book review
3:8:14 Ukraine: Another Revolution Gone Awry
2:9:14 The Flight (and Fight) of the Hummingbird
1:25:14 My Frugal Byways
1:20:14 Walden on Wheels, a book review
1:2:14 Growing Up Amish: A Memoir, a book review
11:28:13 The Moneyless Man, a book review
11:23:13 The Lost Art of Walking, a book review
11:10:13 The Cultural Revolution Cookbook, a book review
10:23:13 The Biker Angel
10:11:13 No Self-Serve Gas in Oregon
9:28:13 A Street Cat Named Bob, a book review
9:23:13 The Life & Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, a book review
9:18:13 Autumn Leaves
8:19:13 The Worst Car Driver & Why
8:12:13 The Gardener from Ochakov, a book review
7:25:13 Le Havre by Kaurismaki
7:20:13 This Ain't California
6:27:13 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, a book review
5:29:13 My Linux (Mis)Adventures
5:25:13 Southern Cross the Dog, a book review
5:5:13 Russian Tumbleweed
4:16:13 "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster
3:25:13 Moore's Law
3:13:13 Grocery Shopping
2:28:13 Razor Blade in Moonlight
1:27:13 Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design, a book review
12:9:12 White Bread, a book review
12:4:12 Update on Old-School Shaving
11:12:12 Ten Great Buys at Dollar Tree
11:6:12 My New Russian Camera
10:29:12 Leaf Day
10:2:12 The Russian Navy in New York?
9:21:12 The Righteous Mind, a book review
9:14:12 Revolution, 1989, a book review
8:23:12 Train Whistles in the Night
8:2:12 Why I've Stockpiled Light Bulbs
7:22:12 Old-School Shaving
7:16:12 Злектроника МК-52, computer de minimus
7:4:12 Ivan's Childhood by Tarkovsky
6:21:12 The Unabomber, a modern Thoreau?
6:12:12 Do the gods exist?
6:7:12 My "Retail Therapy"
5:28:12 On Taxes, We Should Go Green
5:17:12 Portland's Trash
5:6:12 The Toaster Project, a book review
4:24:12 No Seconds
4:12:12 Portland's Runaway Utility Bill
4:8:12 The Repossession, a book review
3:30:12 How I Got Published in Mississippi Review
3:9:12 The End of Money, a book review
2:18:12 Beauty Plus Pity, a book review
2:5:12 Kirk's Castile Soap
1:29:12 Confessions of a Fallen Standard-Bearer, a book review
1:22:12 Thirst, a book review
1:17:12 My IBM ThinkPad 1999-2012
1:11:12 String Beans
12:22:11 Spiritual TMJ
12:16:11 1Q84, a book review
12:11:11 How Portland Became Portlandia
12:1:11 The Fixie
11:20:11 Camus' Insight
11:13:11 Old & Worthy
11:7:11 Life Is Tragic
10:31:11 A Matter of Death and Life, a book review
10:25:11 Dead Letter, Email Fatigue
10:18:11 Reinventing Collapse, a book review
10:11:11 Rereading Pirsig
10:1:11 The Sisters Brothers, a book review
9:26:11 The Great Stagnation, a book review
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9:12:11 The Genius of Value
9:5:11 Death and the Penguin, a book review