I have been talking to a lot of people looking to open a coffee business, or are existing retailers already about the announcement that Starbucks will be closing roughly 600 stores. There has been some mixed thoughts, concerns and feelings about how this will ultimately effect the independent retailer. (I would love to hear from some of you who are in the industry as well).
I think it is important to remember that Starbucks WAS the neighborhood coffee bar when they emerged on the scene. With their growth plan, and focus on tapping new markets and market saturation, what has happened is that the independents have come in and done it better. The care for the customer, serving quality beverages, knowing who your customers are and supporting a more local atmosphere, are all aspects that the indy coffee bar thrives in, and we have seen in the past few months, Starbucks interest in moving back towards this model.
They over saturated to the point that they were often competing with themselves, paying for two locations and maybe splitting profits/customers. It seems that to sustain their new changes, that closing some stores would be inevitable.
I don't see this as being a bad thing for the independent retailer, but it is a confirmation that coffee retail has evolved to the point that it is imperative to offer a high quality product, and that demographics are very different from city to city, and a boiler plate, corporate coffee bar is not always what consumers want. As the economy moves towards a much more local focused, sustainable business model, I think the independent coffee bar/roaster can very much succeed.
Here is a link to an article on Reuters
that has some interesting comments ...
"Starbucks was a cool brand, and then all of a sudden it's not a cool brand," he said. "There's this new global consciousness that is out there that can suddenly shift."
Anyway, I thought this would make a good topic for discussion as we have such a wide variety of coffee professionals, consumers and retailers on the site.