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January 9, 2006

Corporate Efficiencies and Not

-- by Dave Johnson

There's a corporate clock that ticks and corporate computers that grind, and a schedule to follow.

I remember when Salinas, California passed 100,000 population. It was a sleepy half-Mexican Ag city with an old downtown and independent stores. And then the 1990 census said it passed 100,000, a computer was alerted, a bell went off at a marketing person's desk and the Wal-Mart and the Target and the Outback and the entire rest of the strip-mall scene just arrived the next day. The immediate transformation of the city was really something to see.

I'm at a Starbucks. I noticed the whole place is color-schemed and stocked for Valentine's Day. The displays have pink-heart Starbucks mugs for sale. Even the coffee-cards are pink with hearts. I asked when this showed up and they said Jan. 2. So the DAY after New Year's they were starting full-on selling Valentine's. Corporate commercialism is America's religion.

And then there's Peet's. Great coffee but you just can not GET them to get wireless. The employees say every third customer asks. Many days I get a Peets and drive to a Starbucks and use the wireless from the parking lot.

Posted by Dave Johnson at January 9, 2006 8:59 AM

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Good morning, Dave. I know what you mean - I live in a town of 14000 (Anacortes, WA), and we have three - count 'em - three - Charbucks. One actual Charbucks, and one in each of our two grocery stores. Of course, we also have about 10 other coffee shops, half a dozen espresso carts in the summer, and you can get a latte in half the stores around here. But the place that serves the local grind (Donut House, but say it like Homer Simpson) still doesn't have wireless. Of course, they have crappy chairs as well, so no one sticks around for long. That may be part of their strategy, who knows. But it seems the few places that have free wireless (Charbucks is a t-mobile hot-spot - pony up) at least don't turn the routers off at night - sometimes when I'm driving at night I see cars lit from inside with the eerie glow of a laptop screen... Now if I can only remember where I saw plans to build a long-range wifi transmitter/reciever out of a colander and a usb wifi adapter...

Posted by: Gregory at January 9, 2006 9:50 AM

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