What’s going on at my favorite Starbucks?

by cv harquail on January 13, 2010

There’s something going on at my favorite Starbucks.

I’m not quite sure what it is. But there is new evidence today that this Starbucks is somehow special/better than the other 3 in my town.

starbucks siren.jpg

Before I tell you about that, I should probably explain that there are 4 Starbucks within a 2 mile radius of my house. And, I go to each one over the course of the week or two, depending on what else I’m doing and the ambiance I seek.

Each of the four has its own thing going on and they are each good for a different purpose.

There is one particular Starbucks that I go to almost every Wednesday morning, after I drop my daughter off for orchestra rehearsal. This is the Starbucks where I go for a few hours of free wifi and quiet time.

In addition to being my ‘Wednesday morning Starbucks’:

This is the same Starbucks that had the “Take your photo as the Mermaid” game that I got such a kick out of.

stbks bloomberg.jpgThis is the same Starbucks where I saw that guy who I was sure was Michael Bloomberg. (I was so sure I took his picture. Look really closely.)

This is the same Starbucks that has framed photos taken by one of the baristas on the wall. (You can see them, right above Mike Bloomberg.) The photos are for sale, but you’d only know that if you asked.

This is the same Starbucks where I brought our donations for the winter coat drive — despite there being a coat drive at my dry cleaners, the supermarket, and the grammar school.

This is the same Starbucks that has an ongoing bookclub and a windowsill of books that has become the local hub for BookCrossing, where I got yet another copy of Pride & Prejudice (you can never have too much Mr. Darcy.)

And now, this is the Starbucks that gets Christmas cards. From its patrons.

Have you ever seen a Starbucks that displayed Christmas cards from their patrons? Or even received Christmas cards from its patrons?

stbks xmas.jpg

Earlier today, I took this photo of the store’s bulletin board, where there were six holiday cards from various patrons. (Sorry it’s not a better picture. I felt a little self conscious taking the picture.)

Interestingly, each of the six cards had handwritten notes on them, thanking the baristas for making their mornings, evenings, Saturdays, etc. a bit more special.

This is just NOT the same ‘Starbucks’.

I am now officially curious about what is going on at this Starbucks. I think that next Wednesday I will muster up the courage and marshal my curiosity, and stick my nose into their business.

What should I ask them?

See Also:

Can a Starbucks touch your soul?
Burned by Inauthenticity

The People Make the Place Authentic
Clients full of win (@randomdeanna)

Also,  check out Scott Weisbrod’s post:: 4 Lessons fromStarbucks:A Brand on a Mission at Experience Matters   (1/27/10)


Nancy January 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Find out who is in charge and then talk to that person. I think the quality that you’re describing only happens when someone at the top is a functional human being who likes and understands people. Ask the employees what they like about working there. Also how long have they been working there.

nilki b January 14, 2010 at 12:14 am

I grew up in seattle and saw the decimation of the authentic coffee shop by an idea gone wild-bringing coffee to the masses. it’s nice to see that some franchises are coming back to the soul of the coffee shop which all across the West Coast used to be gathering places for teens, authors, suits, musicians and every single walkoflife.

IMO, don’t ask questions, just be! jump right in and enjoy what for many is a distant, sweet memory of what it used to be to grab a cup of coffee on a rainy morning before work or on a friday night with friends and books 😉 and to be part of a community.

It’s making you uncomfortable because it feels right, and so much in commerce just doesn’t! that’s a good thing! thank the barristas by being loyal and friending them (you know, the non-electronic way!)

Thanks for allowing the rant! I think it may have sparked a post of my own!
.-= nilki b´s last blog ..Happy New Year of Wonderful Beginnings =-.

cv January 14, 2010 at 10:39 am

Nancy, I’m betting that you are right… and I think that it’s the case here that more than one of the (local) top people is this way. A hypothesis I can test!

Nilki, I’m loving the perpendicular approach you’re taking to the question. I surely don’t want to ‘kill’ the dymanic by (over) examining it. I’ll think about how/if I can learn more w/out making myself unable to enjoy. cv

Scott Weisbrod January 29, 2010 at 2:27 pm

You’re experiencing the evolution of the brand first-hand. Other Starbucks are catching up too. I agree with Nancy’s point too and would add that it goes even further up the chain – Howard Schultz has brought focus back to organization as well as vision. And his vision trickles all the way down to every partner working at every Starbucks location. Without his vision, Starbucks would still be struggling like they were in 2006/2007.
.-= Scott Weisbrod´s last blog ..Weekly Linkage 2010-01-29 =-.

maceyk February 3, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I think this is a great description of the changing atmosphere. I know many Starbucks that are beginning to look like this and add to their brand image. I think the organization is doing a lot to change the Starbucks image in part to balance the fact that their prices are higher than those of competitors such as DD.
.-= maceyk´s last blog ..Commitment Contracts for Business =-.

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