I was born and raised in Lenoir, a small town in western North Carolina. Lenoir is home to only 18,000 people and used to be known as the furniture capital of the South. We got our first ever Chick-fil-A back in 2017, and a Dunkin' last July. That explains why it's such a big deal that the Lenoir News-Topic recently announced that Starbucks is coming to Lenoir in 2020!

This news has been met with much excitement, and rightfully so. Opening a Starbucks in Lenoir will add variety and options to our little town. Starbucks will give high-schoolers a new date spot, best friends a place to catch up, and moms somewhere convenient to grab a mid-day coffee. Plus, the new business will create several much-needed job opportunities for people who live in the area.

On the other hand, Starbucks could have devastating effects on local coffee shops if locals don't consume wisely. It's good to be excited about growth and change in Lenoir, but we must also remember the small and delicious coffee shops that have kept us running for years. Community-based coffee shops like Blue Moose Coffee Lodge, Highland Coffee House, and The Local Bean are what give our small town character and charm. Sitting at a table in Starbucks just won't be the same as lounging on a couch beneath local artist Charlie Frye's mural at The Local Bean.

I'm not saying that we should boycott Starbucks, just that we should remember to make local purchases too. Local businesses contribute more to the economy and are typically better suited to meet the demands of their community. This isn't to say that Starbucks won't bring business to Lenoir. Rather, what I'm saying is that it's important for us to do our part in keeping the mom-and-pop shops we already have up and running.

So get excited about Starbucks! Prepare to spend your gift cards and surprise your bestie with their favorite drink, but never forget where your favorite coffee first came from. Always remember that local coffee shops are waiting to serve you with locally supplied coffee, home-baked goods, community-based artwork, and a warm smile.