It’s true. There are over a hundred retail venues in downtown Athens, but no fast food chains. No Gap or Banana Republic. No TGIF or Ruby Tuesday’s or Baskin Robbins. The Subway that was here was torn down. The building owner who leased to the Gap didn’t renew their agreement.
What’s going on? The most common answer among Athenians was “sense of community”. It’d be more accurate to say, “extremely strong sense of community“. But how does this translate quantitatively to no chains?
How about 90%? That’s the estimated number of locally-run building owners as opposed to absentee owners. It’s actually more common to see it the other way around. Local building owners are not only more apt to want to contribute more to the local economy, but they also have their friends and family to answer to if they’re guilty of replacing a favorite local coffeehouse with a Starbucks.