Starbucks never made it to Whanganui ... probably never even tried.

I don't blame them - why take on a battle you're never going to win.

We have our own cafe-coffee culture, and it is better than what that symbol of globalisation / franchisee-ation / megabucks-branding can offer.

The Starbucks licence in New Zealand has just changed hands. Restaurant Brands have given up the ghost and will now concentrate on their KFC empire.


There used to be nearly 50 Starbucks in NZ; now there 22 - "they struggled to make money, so we closed them," said the company this week.

The bean counters admit they had a hard job converting Kiwis to their ubiquitous cup of Joe - "We think a lot of that is to do with the existing coffee culture."

Yep. Whanganui is a prime example of that - a growing number of excellent and distinctive cafes with strong coffee brands. If Starbucks ever came here to reconnoitre, they came, they saw ... they turned away with a shrug.

The company now targets the tourist market in New Zealand - people from overseas comforted by a logo they recognise and a taste of familiarity.

We haven't missed much.

But one thing I will miss is another franchise that has had its struggles - not because its product wasn't good, but because the times turned against it.

Last week Whanganui said goodbye to its Video Ezy store at the top of Victoria Ave - one of the very few still in business.

The digital revolution with its livestreaming and instant access to almost any movie, anywhere, at any time has put paid to what was once a booming nationwide concern.


If people want to watch the latest movie on their phone, good luck to them.

I'm old-fashioned enough to prefer to sit down and watch a DVD on a television screen.

So a lament for our Video Ezy and those who worked there.

Wonderful service - you only had to ask for a movie and, among the thousands on offer, they could go straight to it.

Progress, huh?