The rumour is finally true.
Tim Hortons is coming to Whistler. It seemed that every time a building went vacant in Whistler dreams of double doubles began to dance around town — only to be dashed when another pub, clothing store or restaurant opened instead. But it’s now official. The coffee and donut shop is opening its doors in Creekside as early as January.
But while budget-conscious ski bums and penny-pinching caffeine addicts rejoiced, another segment of the population was disappointed, namely those opposed to big chain companies.
They argue that faceless chains not only take money out of the community, but also take business away from the locals who live, work and play here.
That might be true (though some chains are franchises owned by locals), but they are missing one important point: there is a reason people mask the taste of Tim Hortons coffee with two creams and two sugars.
Taste-wise, it doesn’t come close to a cup from Lift, Gone, Moguls, Mount Currie Coffee Company, Fix Café, Purebread or any other local coffee shop. People buy coffee from Tim Hortons because it’s cheap, quick and once a year they might be able to win a free doughnut from their cup.
There is, of course, also the amazing marketing the company has done branding Tim Hortons as the most Canadian thing since the maple leaf — even though it’s not even owned by Canadians.
Local coffee shop owners and proponents of buying local should not worry. There is enough of an appetite for coffee shops that run the gamut from cheap to hip to high end — just look at the four Starbucks located within an eight-kilometre radius. That company has long been amongst the most despised by proponents of the buy local movement for their tactic of setting up on every street corner. Yet, no one in Whistler seems upset with the hoards of tourists getting their pumpkin spice latte fill.
In a place like Whistler that relies on tourism, choice is not a bad thing. There will be tourists who want the same guaranteed-to-be good night out they can have at home and go to dinner at The Keg or Earls and there will be those who want a unique Whistler experience and go to Alta Bistro or Rimrock Café. In the end, there’s room enough for everyone’s taste.