When Diverse is Homogenous

Warning to those of you who are tired of my negativity around all things America. Im at it again!

I am always reminded that I am a citizen of the most diverse nation in the history of mankind. Occasionally,  the reminders are positive, frequently they come with a negative context.

The question of the day therefore is, why as an American do I have to shop for clothes at Banana Republic, The Gap, or J Crew while I eat at some crappy chain.

I am on the end of a twelve day journey to Greece and Italy where I am constantly impressed (even in Greece) with the diversity of options for shopping and eating. It is important to note that the diversity is not just in the brands of the shops but in the items for sale in the shops. It is so refreshing to see so many different styles in so many price ranges.

Now I understand that my view is likely skewed by the fact that I live in Boston, the worst dressed city in the free world. Where else could you eat a gourmet dinner in the comfort of your sweats and Red Sox cap? 

But even when I go to New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, I am comforted (bored?) by the fact that I see the same stores and restaurants that I see everywhere else in the US. Of course, I havent been to Phoenix, Atlanta, Cleveland, or Buffalo any time recently. Maybe that’s where I need to shop.

So why is this? I can only think of three possible reasons:

1- The price advantage of less choice and therefore larger production runs appeals to that obsessive American desire to have more of anything at a lower price, regardless of quality, style or other factors.

2- Americans just don’t really want to have choice in the way they look or eat. Perhaps they arent risk takers in this regard, or they just don’t care all that much. 

3- Landlords are able to extract such high rents (and favor large corporate chains) that sole proprietors can not survive. 

I’d love to know your thoughts. Am I missing something?

Maybe it’s just me and my desire for choices in style. Maybe, I want to be able to wear shorts at the beach,  a linen jacket for dinner, and a stylish slim cut shirt to a meeting.  

Perhaps, I should just pretend that the world is my couch and dress accordingly. Or, Ill just need to keep on traveling…..


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