Thursday, January 29, 2009
300 more Starbucks Stores on Chopping Blockworks, Starbucks continues its long fall from the heights of atmospheric retailing and brand marketing. Starbucks announced that they will close an additional 300 stores. The company did not release the Starbucks store closure list, according to BizJournals.com. This news comes right on the heels of an earlier announcement in July 2008 of 600 store closings, resulting in the elimination of a further 6700 jobs from the downtrodden service sector. Accourding to The Wall Street Journal, Starbucks posted a 69% drop in quarterly profits prior to the announcement.
In a world that is feeling the real world crunch of the economic downturn, the ubiquitous Starbucks on every corner are slowly being replaced by short term loan offices and check cashing stores. It's the little indulgences that consumers are willing to sacrifice first, so it's no surprise that the three or four dollar coffee gets replaced by homebrew or grab and go gas station mud pretty quick.
They say that you don't miss something until it's gone. That's certainly the case with extra money, hence the decline of Starbucks, but perhaps the cliché will hold true for the franchise itself as well. What Starbucks is selling isn't so much the coffee as the entire brand emersion experience that is a Starbucks café. Walking into a Starbucks, a consumer is greeted not only by the hip, liberal art undergrad baristas, but tasteful music, high quality wood floors and furniture, soulful interior design, and a coffee house full of people who appear to be as intelligent, progressive, and on-the-go as the consumer envisions himself to be.
This is all orchestrated by corporate brand marketers to recreate the look and feel of an authentic Starbucks Store Closing List Not Released, but 300 Stores on Chopping Blockcoffee house, but, in the case of Starbucks, the imitation replica is so close an approximation of the real thing that there is no telling them apart. Whereas modernists may have hammered out their ideas amongst colleagues in a real coffee house, its quintessentially post-modern that these corporate replica coffeehouses are so close to the original that only the snootiest consumer can tell the difference.
Sadly, the vanishing Starbucks do not leave a line of authentic coffee houses in their wake. Now that coffee has gone all ubercorporate, it appears that it is there to stay. The cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, and more are being gushed into the new economy via fast food franchises now. The day that an espresso lover sips his brew alongside a life-sized plastic replica of Ronald McDonald is a day that a gourmand will not soon forget.