According to a BBC News report, more than three quarters of the town’s residents have signed a petition to ban UK-based company Costa Coffee from opening a retail store within the village limits. The village of approximately 8,000 people currently supports 41 independently owned coffee shops.
Many of the leaders of the campaign against Costa insist that they are not anti-capitalists, but that they are instead trying to protect what makes their small town distinctive and appealing. The BBC‘s Jon Kelly suggests that coffee shops, like pubs, are often at the forefront of such ant-chain movements, since they often represent community gathering places:
In the US, many neighbourhoods have fought similar battles to that in Totnes. But a free market advocate would note that if people don’t want chain shops spoiling their town there’s a simple solution – don’t patronise them.
On both sides of the Atlantic there seems to be an emotional resonance over coffee shops that doesn’t apply to other businesses. Pubs have something of the same status in the UK.
The full story: BBC News