The Benefits of Corporate Chains
I have been traveling quite a bit lately. For business, for pleasure, for weddings. I love traveling for any reason. I am still not at a point in my life where I feel like I have a permanent home base, so spending a substantial amount of time on the road does not bother me. I like to explore new areas, see parts of the world that I have yet to see. I love hotels, I love airports, I love rental cars. I love to travel.
The downside of travel is the lack of the familiar. Strange, because, that is also the upside, but sometimes you just need to go somewhere that reminds you of home. Having spent, arguably, my most formative years in Nashville where people firmly believe that buying local is the only way to go, I tend to avoid corporate chains. I prefer local coffee shops, boutique clothing stores, restaurants that are not franchised. However, having spent so much time on the road as of late, I have come to appreciate these major national chains and what they can offer.
When I am having kind of a lousy day, the first place I head is to Target. I love Target. You walk in and the first thing you see is Women’s Clothing. Then accessories. Then Shoes. Every time. Bright happy colors. I can walk around for hours and often will buy nothing. But Target, in every city I have ever lived has been my happy place.
Starbucks is another one. Just about everywhere you go, there will be at least on Starbucks. Not all coffee is created equal and there is nothing worse than traveling to some unknown coffee shop and settling in only to discover that the coffee is not what you were hoping for. At Starbucks, it is always the same. For better or worse. You know the vibe of a Starbucks, you know before you walk in what you are walking in to. You know how loud the music will be, how comfortable the seating is. When you need something familiar, a Starbucks will not let you down.
I took a trip with my family a few years back. We went on a seven day cruise and then spent three days in New York City. We got of the boat in Manhattan and headed to Times Square where we were staying. We were exhausted and hungry. Where did we go to eat? The Olive Garden. After a week of weird cruise ship food and four people crammed into one tiny cabin, we all just needed a little familiar before we dove into the second part of vacation. I got the same thing I always get at Olive Garden and it was delicious. And exactly what I needed.
Now, I am in no way saying that you should not seek out the cool local places when you travel. Please, explore the towns you are visiting, but when life is in constant flux and home is somewhere that does not fully exist, it is nice to know that I can find a sense of the familiar wherever I may be.