Do chains equal homogeneity?

steven johnson:
"...for the people outside the urban centers, I think the chains have largely been a force for more diversity, not less. The question is whether the chains are killing off the diversity in the cities themselves. I don't think anyone has done a convincing study of this yet. My hunch would be it's pretty much a draw: Soho is filled with JCrew and The Gap now, but five blocks over in NoLiTa there are more small designers in one-room shops than there ever were in Soho. There are fewer indie bookstores now, but frankly, I don't need indie bookstores with Amazon. And there are like a thousand Starbucks in NYC, but all the classic small coffee shops I know of are still thriving."
Wal-Mart, as well, has sure as hell added more diversity to what you can easily get, for more of small-town America.