The End of the Starbucks Era

Yesterday I ran across this article that was talking about ways that writers could simulate the coffee shop experience at home in the COVID-19 era.

It suggested making a little “coffee shop” nook in your house. Upgrade to artisan coffees, and put in some cozy pillows. Then, it even went to so far as to recommend white noise sites, where you could simulate the ambient noise of a cafe.

That was actually my favorite part of the article, and I tried all the sites listed. In the end, it was all fun for giggles, but I can only go so far in pretending I’m in Starbucks.

Starbucks has stated that they will not fully open until it is safe to do so globally. This means, you can drive thru, or sit on the patio (which, is comical in the 100+ degree summer heat here in the south). But you can’t hang out in the lobby with your laptop. After all, what do you think this is…a coffee shop or something?

This is the absolute worst thing Starbucks could have done, considering that the entire nation is working from home. Their unique business model has become an important part of our culture, for that very reason. It caters toward the study or work from home crowd.

They could have CASHED IN on the profit. In an era when everyone is homeschooling, how many students desperately needed the Starbucks lobby? In an era when professional couples, forced to be remote, are now bumping into each other at the kitchen table, how many would have dashed to Starbucks?

Instead, Starbucks wanted to be super globalist (as they’ve always been), and lose their unique advantage. I once read a tweet from a Starbucks employee, that was supposed to echo the sentiment of Starbucks workers, “Why should I risk my life so that someone can have a latte?”

They missed the point. They missed what they were providing for their country. They missed that they were providing an important “third place,” for their own economy.

In a time when businesses are categorized as “essential,” and by comparison, “non-essential,” Starbucks, as it supports the work from home community, is most definitely, “essential.”

Office Depot understood that about themselves and remained fully open during the quarantine, doling out flash drives and printer ink to the self-isolated masses. Why doesn’t Starbucks understand this about themselves?

Instead, the independents, brave enough to stay open, are in a rare opportunity, to grab the coffee giant’s market share. If I had a coffee shop, I’d be scrambling right now to get that market share. Stay open 24 hours, or rent out empty churches and provide socially distanced study centers. A little ingenuity, and you could make a name for yourself.

For me, I’ve found a small locally owned tea room.

It’s got a bit more of a high brow, feminine feel than Starbucks. The theme is an English garden, so the walls are covered in plastic flowers, and customers sip from dainty little teacups on saucers. There’s the occasional baby shower or prim and proper ladies’ luncheon, but other than that, it works just as well as Starbucks.

I usually buy a pot of tea and some snacks, and I’ll sit for a couple of hours and rip through writing another novel.

Every time I make a purchase there, I think about that was a dollar Starbucks specifically lost. The photo at the top of the post, is my table at the tea room.

I actually snapped it, and Facebooked it to Starbucks and told them straight out that I was spending money at the tea room, because they weren’t open. “All’s fair in love and capitalism,” I wrote. I never got a response.

In recent years, the liberalism of Starbucks has gotten the company in trouble with consumers. It seems every other year, someone is calling for a boycott to the Green Mermaid. Maybe this the beginning of the end of the coffee giant. It seems somewhat ironic, considering it mainstream by capitalizing on on anti-corporate zeitgeist, popularized by Grunge musicians and early 90’s Seattle hipsters.

In other news, I heard Nirvana playing in Wal-Mart the other day. Ha!

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