As a political liberal, I dearly want to jump on the "shop local" bandwagon. Yet I find that the arguments just aren't there or, at best, fall short. Here is my collection of random thoughts on the subject:
1) Milwaukee consumers have been relieved by large chains entering the grocery market. After Kohl's closing, Roundy's was left at the major player, and it is arguably not the most consumer-friendly option.
2) Chains come up with devious tax dodges, but this may be compensated for by their greater longevity as taxpayers. The chains--large and small, local and less local--have been around for most of my life in the area where I've spent most of my life: the North Shore, East Side and Downtown. Countless boutique businesses have come and gone there in my 39 (almost 40) years. That being said, most chain stores do seem to end up outliving their deserved life span by 15 or 20 years...but that may only strengthen my point.
3) For whatever reason, huge growth areas like Franklin seem to be considered "flyover country" by independent coffee shops. Or maybe there is simply a no-fault incompatibility. But I'm surprised that, say, Alterra hasn't taken some of that loose change clanging around in its pockets and built in Franklin yet.
I was driving around Franklin on Sunday and was amazed--though not necessarily surprised--by the growth. When a storefront on the North Shore or East Side becomes vacant, it stays that way FOREVAR. The dynamic growth in Frankin means construction jobs, for example. Police and firefighters hired...
4) Chain businesses pay--directly or through landlords--what must be the lion's share of property taxes. To put it bluntly, if chain businesses are funding the emergency services that would scrape my sorry ass off the pavement if I had an accident, I'm not too cool to praise them on the Internet. So I will, where appropriate and deserved. And, maybe, sometimes just for shits and giggles.