Small businesses in Cayman have expressed concern over the imminent arrival of coffee king Starbucks, which is expected to open its doors under a franchise arrangement by the end of this year.
And while they say global brands can benefit the island, there is still a cause for concern.
The closure of Camana Bay’s branch of Cafe del Sol on 31 October was the first casualty of Cayman’s changing coffee landscape.
“If someone is going to break up with me, I’d like to know why. It might make me feel a little bit better,” said Brad Bargman, a partner in Cafe del Sol.
Mr. Bargman said he thinks it is “bad business” – that it is the customer who will miss out.
“They’re very disappointed with big business coming in. They like their small community. ‘Support local, drink local,” that’s what we’ve been saying,” Mr. Bargman explained.
The Cayman Islands Small Business Association President said it was a worry, too, for the companies she represents.
“It’s concerning that big conglomerates come and small businesses are knocked out,” Dawn McLean-Brady said, adding: “I’m glad that Cafe del Sol has an option to take their business elsewhere, but a lot of small businesses don’t have that option.”
But both said there was space for a global brand on Grand.
“We have to be prepared for globalisation. We have to be able to take our business global, we have to figure out how do we do the online thing,” Ms. McLean-Brady stated.
“Competition is good… but they like their small town business,” Mr. Bargman qualified.
Beyond competition, Ms. McLean-Brady said there are other benefits, too.
“We’re glad that Starbucks is coming because it means employment for the Cayman Islands overall, so we have to look at the big picture. But for small businesses, it’s concerning,” she stressed.
A balance then, between the rights of small businesses to compete, in an arena that keeps getting bigger.
When Cafe del Sol closed last month, Dart released a statement thanking them for their service over the last decade. They added they will not comment on potential negotiations regarding future tenants, as per common practice.