Monday, July 07, 2008

Whoa my gosh – Starbucks is in trouble!!!

Am I crushed? Nope. Saddened? Nope. Bothered, even a tiny smidge? Nah

Wait, let me back up first. I am a coffee snob, and yes, I more or less gained that attribute whilst living in the Great Northwet, Washington State in particular. And yes, we were totally nuts about coffee, although that has abated somewhat today; when it became ultra cool for everyone to be a coffee snob, then the natives quit, because then it wasn’t cool anymore, ya see…

Anyway, during coffee’s Northwest heyday, we had three 24 hour coffee drive through joints in a town of 50,000, and every hardware store and lumber yard had an espresso stand, if they wanted to survive. A good Barista was hard to find and jealously guarded: Stephanie not only saw you coming from 2 blocks away and had your stuff ready when you got there, she was smart, funny, and easy on the eye…

Then came the ‘roiding of Starbucks… When that little shop opened at Pikes Market in the early 80s, it was cool. When they opened their first satellite up on Capitol Hill, and a stone’s throw from my apartment, it was convenient.

When they opened their 6,000+ store, it was oppressive. I’ve had Starbucks in Fort Worth Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah: Neither had good coffee, and at both, the perceived mien for a Barista is over-the-top, hyper-cheerful, AM radio jock morning show horseshit – No, I don’t want a creamy orange gelato mocha frapuccino and how I am is pretty much none of your business, frankly; see, you ain’t earned intimacy yet, and you don’t get it granted to you due to overzealous verbal diarrhea…

At the point that Starbucks became a corporation, all the magic was gone. They were dead meat, they just didn’t know it yet. Ever been to a Red Robin? They also started in Seattle. The first one was at the base of the Montlake cut, right next to the bridge, and it was really quite good; it was and is no Dick’s, mind you, (The truly legendary Seattle burger joint), but it was good. Once it got out of Seattle and was fully corporized, it too was toast.

So am I sad at Starbucks woes? Nope, just wondering what took them so long.

See, I can do all you corporate hotshots a favor, if you’ll lend me an ear for a sec; I can save you a bunch of money and energy and time, if you’ll listen up… You ready?

OK, here it is, in the form of a simple formula to remember:

The depth of demise that anything and anybody will fall to, when you try to multiply their success via incorporation and expansion, will be directly proportional to how great they were and would still be had you left them alone.

Ya got that? Still not sure it's true? How about a quick checklist: Bobby Flay? He’s in an ad as a fucking M & M, for cryin’ out loud! Southwest Airline’s pioneering spirit? Gonzo. Redhook Ale? Urk! J. K. Rowling? 'nuff said Any department store you wanna mention? Please...

Just as the ever increasing waistline of a megalithic entity like G. E. gets worse and worse every year, that burger joint, that coffee shop, that chef, that writer, that store will most certainly go to shit when you try to share it too broadly. Once you’re a corporation, you have no soul, no heart, no cojones, and you never will.

So do us a favor, pencil necks; stick to actuarial and fiduciary, and leave life to us, OK?

1 comment:

David C. said...

Or maybe at least consider putting some limits on expansion. Even in South Bend, Indiana, we have at least ten Starbucks outlets, including a drivethrough and one in a supermarket on opposite corners of the same intersection! And New York City? Fugetaboutit! One on every block!