Andrew Hetzel wrote:...I'm stumped. With all of the available resources at their disposal, why would they launch a shop that is almost up to top industry standards? Shouldn't this be an opportunity to innovate and take the market in new directions?
This is one of my favorite lazy misconceptions about Starbucks. There is no Scrooge McDuck money bin. Just like everyone else here, Starbucks sells food and beverages and makes a slim profit on it. If a store isn't profitable, it is not sustainable, period. If a store's business model is not sustainable, it will lose money, and as we have seen (and are continuing to see) that store must close.
15th Ave is the most poignant example of this. The Starbucks at this very location was losing money and had to close. Its older-coffee-business-model of standard food, auto-spro, and blended could not be sustained in this neighborhood. Mind you, the standard Starbucks still works in a lot of places, for example Manhattan, KS (the little apple- wish I was joking about the city's marketing campaign) where it's just-about if not the best in town. The key is-15th Ave is a different business model from the one that formerly occupied the space- essential baking co food, a unique expression of tea, pourover coffee on demand, clover, manual espresso, and SOE. Similarly, I would argue that intellivenice is yet another different business model.
Are these concepts new to the world of coffee? No. Are they available at every other shop in town? No, they are not, so I would argue that 15th Ave represents something unique in THIS coffee market, albeit not unique to the world of coffee. For one example, SOE for all practical purposes doesn't exist in Seattle. Yes, Victrola will do it sometimes, Trabant occasionally, Stumptown when there's a farmer in town, but otherwise, no. 15th Ave has SOE built-in. I'm not saying that doing SOE was difficult, just that 15th Ave did it willfully and publicly. Unrelated, I really need to get to Alex's Mokas
in the daytime so I can keep up to date on his stellar progress.
To answer your question, Yes, Starbucks could build one gold-plated futuristic coffee palace, but it would have to justify that excess to shareholders and if it didn't make enough money, it too would have to close. Money wasted, egg on face, jobs lost, heads rolled.
15th Ave looks vintage-y not just because that seems "in", but also because every feature in the store has to justify its price. For example, why a Linea and not a Synesso Hydra? The Linea works and... is paid for
. It's really just that easy to understand. I think if the blog
shares this level of detail, we're going to learn that a lot of the art and features of the store were not bought out of a catalog at a premium, but instead were forged from the sweat of the very folks that thought them up. Sound familiar?
Andrew Hetzel wrote:The most ironic image I see is that Melitta cone filter brew bar -- didn't those get popular because Starbucks bought Clover? The appearance of this device tells me that its sole intent it to build credibility / authenticity with an unsuspecting public.
With all the coverage, can we be straight here and agree that it's impossible for any public to be unsuspecting now? Can we also agree that with the word Starbucks printed on every item, menu, and wall in the store that the intent was never to "fool" anyone? The pourover bar isn't new
, but neither is it ubiquitous in Seattle. Zoka's trying a few out, Neptune
has it their game, but that's about the only appearance I've seen of pourover in the 206. No-one's going to walk into 15th Ave and think "oh, yeah, I've seen this in 'hardcore' shops- this must be a hardcore shop". Customers are honestly going to ask "what is that thing?" They might also ask why it looks like an old wooden toolbox (see "cuz it's paid for" above).