Friday, September 08, 2006

Starbucks: When did it become a sin to achieve the American dream?

Why does everyone seem to have something bad to say about Starbucks? If you don't like national coffee chains in your neighborhood, don't buy their products.

Starbucks began as a single coffee shop in Seattle, WA near Pike Place Market. I've been to the original location. It's probably no bigger than 500 square feet.

Starbucks became the company it is today by providing a product that people liked and sound business planning. Little guy makes good... isn't that the American dream? So, why when a business is successful, do we start hating it?

Unlike many independent coffee shops, Starbucks offers tuition reimbursement, management training and health care benefits; they also support independent farmers, hire locally and pay what most communities consider a living wage. Starbucks has also shown a willingness to open in urban locations shunned by most national retailers. Are these attributes really such attrocities?

I like Starbucks. I used to mail order whole coffee beans before the company expanded and I used to love having a layover at BWI because one of the first Starbucks east of the Mississippi was located in the main concourse.

At work, I drink Starbucks because its the best coffee available close to my office; at home, I walk the extra couple blocks to Gorilla Coffee, because it's actually better and I don't have to wait in line behind someone ordering a half-caff, skinny, caramel, venti soy latte. Actually, for a supposed "category killer," the Starbucks in my neighborhood doesn't seem to doing so well competing against the independents.

So, remember boys and girls... work hard, reinvest your profits, treat your employees better than the next guy and the unions will try to organize your workforce, the hipsters and aging hippies will protest your presence and if you're really good, you'll even manage alienate your original customer base.



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