“Chain” establishments, such as franchise stores and restaurants, often get a bad rap. Detractors say they are bad for both local business and the global economy. They are too alike, their cookie-cutter design a blight on the national landscape and the antithesis of local charm.
Well, right now I for one am thankful for chains.
While the criticisms may be true, the critics must not discount the emotional power of familiarity, especially as our world changes ever more rapidly. And having moved our family 600 miles from our former home, I can attest that familiarity breeds not discontent, but comfort.
I have plenty of newness and change at the moment. In the midst of this, I am grateful that I can shop at Kroger to restock my kitchen and know exactly what I’m buying, and where to find it. I can walk into Target and immediately feel at home. I can stop at a restaurant along the interstate three states away and enjoy “comfort food” in the truest sense. When my dog eats my shoe, I know immediately where to shop for a replacement. National companies and chains also allow me to transfer services instead of starting over. Utilities, the vet, cell phones, banks, auto mechanics — my information and services all convey to our new location, easing our transition even further.
Sure, in time I will get to know the owners of the local establishments as well. But for now, I am grateful for the comfort of familiarity.