Peter Rose: Millennials are ‘killing’ chain restaurants

My “millennial” daughter recently announced sardonically that Millennials are killing Applebee’s.
You can’t say stuff like that around me without it eliciting a lot of interest and demands for more information. The conversation that followed was very interesting. It made me feel optimistic.
I’ve repeatedly expressed disdain, here, for all the national chains that have been foisted on our landscape since the early 80s. The embarrassingly flawed model is based on formulating a good thing, whether it be a popular clothing store or restaurant, or anything, that can be duplicated so as to proliferate nationwide.
It flies in the face of everything I find cool and compelling, yet the list of the invasive species is long and varied, and it continually troubles me to think that I am in the minority.
But my daughter (29) is unapologetic about wanting little to do with chain restaurants, and it’s not just her; at least a sector of her generation is turned off by the plastic fakeness and brazenly mercenary approach that is the hallmark of publicly traded companies that create a concept, market it like crazy, and endeavor to sell it as “cool.” She lit up something that I knew, but hadn’t really focused on, insofar as who’s responsible: It was MY generation that spawned all that parasitic idiocy. Thankfully, there is now an opposite reaction to what was created. It nauseates these younger people.
The encouragement for Mr. Local, here, cannot be undersold.
The insanity of the business concentration out there is what’s behind a lot of our societal ills.
In the restaurant business, at least, a push-back of noteworthy proportions is taking place. I don’t want to overstate it, but I started thinking about all the good, solid local spots that have been here a while, and of so many newcomers that have joined the ranks of independent options for folks to eat at…and it’s impressive.
There are so many great local operations strewn all around our Downriver, and therefore, of course….cookie cutter chains are losing market share. Good Fail, already! Give us back our economy!
Most of the people I know also avoid chains, but not all. Nor is it true that ALL so-called millennials are part of this new trend. We are not home free, by any stretch. But it’s refreshing to know that damage done to local economies can be fixed.
Remember that behind every column I write, every argument against nationals…is my knowledge that every purchase each of us makes has leverage that we squander when we direct our money to establishments that immediately siphon most of it away to their headquarters. Three and a half times more money stays local with a purchase at an independent and locally owned business, compared to a national option. I am completely steeped in this awareness, so that my choices always include the evaluation process of local or national.
I have a certain amount of power to affect my local economy. The choices I make result in money being spent locally, over and over…or not. Internet purchases take all of my power away. National chains of any sort take most of my money away. Only local and independent options retain as much circulating capital that benefits me. My purchases benefit me, or not.
This powerful idea is called “collective selfishness,” combining self interest with civic mindedness. Once you really grasp this idea, it starts to have a controlling impact on the choices you make.
The potential that arises from shifting your shopping across all lines is staggering. The multiplier effect is captivating. It’s so important to stress that this effect is not abstract, but viscerally real. More money – your money – being leveraged to benefit you, first and foremost. Everyone else gets to piggyback off your benefit, and hopefully, they follow your lead. Especially if you suggest it to them.
It’s oh-so hip to disparage the Millennials. Even naming a generational range seems moronic to me, but to blast them for eschewing the ridiculous overbuilding and overindulgence of prior generations is hypocrisy defined. The coolness factor is the key, and you just can’t mass-produce it.
Younger generations seem to get this far more than us Baby Boomers, at least in this application. Authenticity is what’s important to me, and to my great relief, apparently many in this new generation.
The challenge for every independent retail operation in 2019 is to study the successes of independent and locally owned food and drink operations, and to emulate those elements that are applicable to what we do. I admire excellence and coolness that only indies can provide, and my job is all about finding the right paths to those ends. No rest, my friends. No rest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *