retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There are a couple of stories this morning reporting on how a couple of local, independent retailers in the Boston area have found themselves in conflict with much larger corporate interests.

The Associated Press reports on how a North Attleborough, Massachusetts, coffee shop owner, Steve Copoulos, says he has received a cease-and-desist letter from Dunkin' Donuts telling him that he violated its trademark when he put a sign in his window saying, “North now runs on Mike’s."

Copoulos says that when he reopened his father's coffee shop recently, his goal was to be the "exact opposite" of a corporate coffee shop, and only put up the sign to get a few laughs from customers. The lawyer's letter, he says, was unexpected.

The offending window art subsequently has been washed off, the AP writes.

At the same time, the Boston Globe reports on the battle between a former 7-Eleven franchisee named Abu Musa, who was forced to give up his South Boston store after an extended dispute with corporate over the hot foods it was forcing him to sere in his store. Musa thought the food was gross, labor intensive and ultimately a waste of his money, but 7-Eleven maintained that his franchisee agreement required him to carry it. The argument eventually went to court, and Musa had to walk away from his store.

Now, he has opened a new store virtually across the street - and calls it 6-Twelve.

According to the Globe, Musa is "trying strategies to attract particular corners of the local market. He carries a variety of snack foods from Ireland, things like Tayto chips and frozen bread from Pat the Baker. He also sells MBTA passes and is the only UPS Access Point on the eastern side of the neighborhood, allowing the young professionals who have moved to the area to have packages delivered to the store, avoiding missed drivers and stolen boxes."

He's also doing his best to undercut 7-Eleven on price (which he says he can do because he has a deep understanding of its pricing strategies), and has pledged to never, ever carry hot food.
KC's View:
I love these stories ... because I love it when independent businesses of any kind show a little bit of moxie and panache in competing with larger, better funded entities. They inspire me.