In Praise of Chain Stores

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Starting a Conversation: Respond to “In Praise of Chain Stores”

In your writer’s notebook, record your analysis of Postrel’s essay by responding to the following questions:

  1. Postrel’s argument is more specific and thorough than her title might suggest. What is her thesis? What does she expect readers to believe or do after reading her essay?

  1. Postrel’s introductory paragraphs quote writers and pundits who dislike retail chains, without disputing them. What purposes do these paragraphs serve in her essay? Why is it essential for her argument to cite these views early on?

  1. Who or what are “cosmopolites,” and how are they related to readers of The Atlantic Monthly? According to Postrel, what do their assumptions about small towns reveal about their social, economic, and geographic biases?

  1. Postrel refers to “place” and “local color” at several points in her essay. What do these terms mean? In what ways are their definitions central to her argument?

  1. According to Postrel, how might a misplaced hostility to retail chains actually harm some communities? What specific advantages does she claim these stores provide, and who benefits from them? What kinds of evidence does she offer to prove her point?

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