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  1. yazikus
    yazikus July 2, 2008 at 11:30 am |

    Just as a point of interest, the “discriminating coffee enthusiast” does not usually frequent Starbucks, or as I like to call it, Charbucks. Because their espresso tastes like burnt.
    They only do well because it is bitter enough to vaguely taste underneath layers of sugar and milk.
    So I can’t say I am all that sad they are closing a few. I would rather see small local roasteries get the business.
    And milk drives up their costs alot. A cup of black coffee or a dopio is never too expensive.

    DEAF FEMINIST PUNK!!!! July 2, 2008 at 11:44 am |

    fuck Starbucks. I’m much happier supporting locally owned coffee shops in my area.

  3. zadig
    zadig July 2, 2008 at 11:53 am |

    Interestingly, I’ve seen Dunkin’ Donuts build across the street from each other, in the Boston area. I wonder if that means they’re similarly doomed? It does seem to be a stupid level of expansion that can’t be sustained.

  4. Anna
    Anna July 2, 2008 at 11:58 am |

    Oh gosh, you mentioned Coffee. Why did you do that?

    Now I need moar. ARG.

    *runs off to Second Cup*

  5. exholt
    exholt July 2, 2008 at 12:02 pm |

    Not feeling too much sympathy for Starbucks the corporation myself as the overpriced beverages along with the fact most of the customers I’ve seen who patronize such places seem to be overly pretentious socio-economically privileged fashionistas or hipsters trying to look cool and who are the types to give me nasty stares and sometimes nasty comments for not dressing according to their taste on public streets in NYC. Up until recently, the discomfort I feel whenever I pass by one or on a rare occasion, go in, is the type I still feel when I dine at fancy restaurants where people think nothing of paying $30-75 per person even though I am currently in a situation where I can afford to do so once in a blue moon.

    I am torn, however, as I know some current undergrads who work as baristas to defray some of their undergrad expenses and I do not want this to negatively affect their ability to continue doing so.

  6. Corey
    Corey July 2, 2008 at 12:04 pm |

    A perhaps impertinent question, but, what price gouging?

  7. Flamethorn
    Flamethorn July 2, 2008 at 12:05 pm |

    There are no locally owned coffee shops in my city. Okay, there’s an ice cream parlor 5 miles away which sometimes has espresso on the rare occasions the machine isn’t broken. And there’s the coffee in Borders, but you can’t really bring your own book in there.

  8. shah8
    shah8 July 2, 2008 at 12:08 pm |

    My roasted beans are in bar forms or chilled lactose and fats rich solution. Occasionally, I’ll have a hot chocolate.

    I’m a tea drinker. A snotty tea drinker, like the snotty coffee drinkers who have posted earlier than me. High quality dragonwells, kusmi zoubrovka, rich ceylons, earl greys, and the occasional fruity/rooibos brew. The only thing I buy at Starbucks is their overpriced pasties, since I’m guilty from reading entire Barnes and Nobles books.

    Honestly though? I’d buy more fiction if reasonably priced and hassle free digital versions were easily available.

  9. Luna
    Luna July 2, 2008 at 12:12 pm |

    In my neighbourhood (which I define as places I can walk to in half an hour or less) there is one Starbucks, 4 Tim Hortons, and 3 non-franchise coffee shops. It’s ludicrous. Something’s gotta give. And I can tell you right now, it’s not going to be the Tim Hortons. And the Starbucks is brand new (in the parking lot of the strip mall where one of the local shops is. I’m betting that one is first to go.)

  10. norbizness
    norbizness July 2, 2008 at 12:37 pm |

    Don’t forget the joke in Best in Show about Parker Posey and her husband meeting when their eyes met across the street from two different Starbucks. P.S. everything DFP said in #2.

  11. EoL
    EoL July 2, 2008 at 12:53 pm |

    My hometown couldn’t even BEGIN to sustain a non-chain coffee shop. Many tried, and all failed within a year or two or three. And a few years ago, we FINALLY got a Starbucks. It’s a teeny tiny little thing, but it’s on the opposite side of town from the university. Three miles apart. Town’s not pedestrian or bike friendly. STUPID location. But I still hope it doesn’t close, because dammit, our town NEEDS a coffee shop and it NEEDS one that can stay afloat on its own.

    That said, I live in Japan, where most people seem to prefer Starbucks because it’s non-smoking more than anything. There are about a million other chain coffee shops, but I always pick Starbucks because I don’t like coffee and they make a nice chai latte. Plus, my $4 doesn’t seem so bad when I’m in Japan, where any beverage at any restaurant is likely to be $4.

    I guess it might make a difference if you actually like coffee or something. I’ve heard lots of arguments over which coffee shop has the better coffee …

  12. River
    River July 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm |

    There are little locally-owned individual coffee stands all over town, and more springing up all the time; I can cite two new ones in parking lots that just came into being this summer. None of them seem to be particularly hurting for business, and this is a small town, albeit a small town an hour away from Seattle, home to many coffee drinkers. (Other things that abound in this town: used bookstores, churches, and taverns.) We have one Starbucks in town and it will probably stay here. We generally don’t go there unless my partner has a Starbucks card with credit on it; he keeps winning $15 Starbucks cards as a freebie at work for getting “perfect 10s” from customers. Otherwise we will choose to patronize one or another locally-owned coffee stand, where the coffee is much better, or, more likely, just stay home and drink drip coffee here. Lattes are a treat, not a usual purchase, and everybody in town has the sugar-free vanilla syrup I like in my latte. So does the grocery store (and there is a coffee stand in almost every one in town), so if I want flavored coffee, I can get it at home.

    The local Starbucks can close for all I care. I would hate to see the jobs go, because there are so few in this area anyway, but we certainly won’t be hurting for coffee stands in this town if it does.

  13. yazikus
    yazikus July 2, 2008 at 1:25 pm |

    I was in Seattle for Coffee Fest last year, and the amount of smaller roasters and cafe’s represented was wonderful and amazing. With thousands of people there, guess who chose not to participate. Good old Starbucks.
    In fact, while taking a break outside, some co-workers and I ran into a Starbucks employee who asked what was going on at the convention center. When we told him it was Coffee Fest he asked “I wonder why Starbucks didn’t send me here?”…

  14. Kelsey Jarboe
    Kelsey Jarboe July 2, 2008 at 1:41 pm |

    zadig– Dunkin Donuts is practically religion in Boston, right along side rapid baseball fanaticism. I don’t think “Dunkies” is going anywhere soon, but they probably won’t ever have the nation success Starbucks does/did.

  15. CM
    CM July 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm |

    Yeah, I really hate when people get all snooty toward people who choose to frequent starbucks. “I don’t drink Starbucks, EEWWW! I like real coffee!”

    My younger sister used to manage a Starbucks. They treat their employees very well and their pay is actually quite good. So, uh, yeah, I have nothing at all against Starbucks, and I don’t thumb my nose at people who choose to buy their products.

    They have great dark iced tea. Mmmm.

  16. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe July 2, 2008 at 1:45 pm |

    If anything good can be said about Starbucks’ market saturation, it’s this: All those stores across the street from each other are company-owned. (About 40% of Starbucks units are franchised, but those are mostly in shopping malls, airports and other enclosed venues.)

    This is good because it means that by cannibalizing sales with too many stores, the company wasn’t hurting anyone but itself. I get really annoyed with chain restaurants that screw over their franchisees, many of whom put their last dollar into their franchise, by overloading a territory.

  17. CM
    CM July 2, 2008 at 1:48 pm |

    exholt: Wow, what kind of people live in your area? Because every.single.Starbucks I’ve ever been in has a random smathering of all types of people. Including people like me (paycheck-to-paycheck types).

    Sometimes I think people make up these kinds of stories so they seem hipper themselves. “I don’t shop here because of THOSE TYPES OF PEOPLE! I am so much better than THOSE TYPES!” Okay, then.

  18. Corey
    Corey July 2, 2008 at 2:23 pm |

    However, the oil supply and oil production has not slowed, and demand has not increased over the past two months. Demand has in fact gone down due to the increase in price. So why does my gas more in July than it did in May?

    But demand is still increasing in countries like China (oil is an internationally traded commodity), which means less supply and thus higher prices. That demand for gas (among private consumers, lets assume, who have chosen to drive less) has dropped wouldn’t really affect the price, since the new higher price reflects a new equilibrium (that is, if the price went back down again, people would demand more gas raising prices again).

    Also, your gas almost always costs more in July than in May, based upon the expectation that people drive more in the summer (leading to greater demand) and some (as near as I can tell, good) environmental regulations about gas having different ethanol mixtures in the summer months. Expectations get factored into prices too.

  19. Kristin
    Kristin July 2, 2008 at 3:04 pm |

    Also, Starbucks was very reluctant to make any of its products fair-trade certified. Although fair-trade coffee now constitutes a small percentage of their product output, I’d rather stick with companies that are committed to fair trade business practices and sell only fair trade coffee/tea products.

  20. jgoreham
    jgoreham July 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm |

    Starbucks treats their peeps pretty well (they usually rank as one of the best employers to work for, don’t they?), it’s not my first choice for a cuppa (I’d rather a local cafe, or if not that, a Tim Horton’s) but some of their sandwiches and desserts are quite good for what they are.

  21. Katherine
    Katherine July 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm |

    I know it’s going to sound terribly knee-jerk-anti-Starbucks, but honestly, their tea (not chai, which I haven’t had) is absolutely bloody awful. There’s no excuse for it in England – all they have to do is go to the supermarket and buy a bumper pack of PG Tips. But noooo, they persist with this “Tazo” swill. Ugh.

  22. Cecelia
    Cecelia July 2, 2008 at 4:15 pm |

    I am thankful that I was able to grow up around small independent coffee shops here in Michigan. There are a few good places I like to frequent in my area. I really don’t like Starbucks so I choose not to support that business. Some people like Starbucks and as mentioned in other comments they do treat their employees well.

    We just need to go back to local economies and get away from these mega businesses swallowing up our communities whole. This is a part of the downfall of the American economy, the inability to be completely local. I am all for local as much as possible.

  23. dananddanica
    dananddanica July 2, 2008 at 4:17 pm |

    thats pretty much it corey, the profit margin on oil is less than that, by a lot, than big pharma. America doesnt dominate the oil market anymore, we could cut our driving in half, which would never happen, and the price of gas would still go up over the next few years. We’ve reached a new paradigm and to call it price gouging is just a wee bit misinformed though I can understand the want to do as such.

  24. Jen
    Jen July 2, 2008 at 4:58 pm |

    Wow. The Got Milk campaign has fully passed into the domain of BS propaganda. So, you get some nice calcium from milk, mixed from coffee with caffeine, which leaches calcium from your bones? Sounds real healthy….WTF?!

  25. K
    K July 2, 2008 at 5:04 pm |

    good. starbucks sucks. support local business, etc. seriously, though, not at all worth the price. it’s nothing special.

  26. hypatia
    hypatia July 2, 2008 at 5:39 pm |

    In my neighbourhood (which I define as places I can walk to in half an hour or less) there is one Starbucks, 4 Tim Hortons, and 3 non-franchise coffee shops. It’s ludicrous. Something’s gotta give.

    Sounds very similar to my area, everywhere is just so coffee saturated. We have 2 Tim Hortons, 3 Second Cups, 2 Starbuck with another going in early next year, and an uncountable number of Italian/French bakeries and delicatessens that have coffee as one of their main income streams.

    I’m not a big coffee drinker but when I actually want some I end up taking a thirty minute transit ride to a place that actually roasts their bean on site and is 100% fair trade.

  27. exholt
    exholt July 2, 2008 at 5:40 pm |

    exholt: Wow, what kind of people live in your area? Because every.single.Starbucks I’ve ever been in has a random smathering of all types of people. Including people like me (paycheck-to-paycheck types).

    Interestingly enough, I live in an area that has increasing racial and ethnic diversity, especially immigrant families from Eastern Europe and East/South Asia. Ironically enough, most of the people who go to the local Starbucks in my area tend to be upper/upper-middle class White/Jewish kids and a smidgen of completely assimilated second generation immigrant kids who dress up in highly fashionable clothes or otherwise attempt to look cool while copping such an overentitled snotty attitude towards the rest of the local residents in my area who do not dress or otherwise conform to their ideals of “good taste”.

    The fact you mentioned you’re implying my experiences are false makes me wonder whether you are a corporate shill similar to the Pro-Microsoft or Pro-Apple ones I’ve seen on computing technology forums who go around attempting to discredit, shoot down, and use FUD to suppress dissenting online commenters who don’t conform to the uncritical fanatical worship of their favored corporate entity.

  28. Corey
    Corey July 2, 2008 at 6:10 pm |

    However, those arguments don’t explain the price of gas doubling in two months.

    Okay, so then what does? Industry collusion? As far as I know, no economists are talking about evidence of market manipulation. Even considering speculation bubbles, someone like Paul Krugman doesn’t think that is the case.

    What’s the evidence that companies are price gouging?

    As to the small number of car companies that control the American markets (haven’t seen the movie though), high gas prices are making them change their tune pretty quickly. GM and Ford can whine about CAFE standards, but their sales have taken a hit, 18% for GM versus a year ago for June. For a company like Honda–who sells more fuel efficient cars and has the most nimble factories to meet supply–saw a 1.1% increase.

  29. Marked Hoosier
    Marked Hoosier July 2, 2008 at 6:20 pm |

    Huh, I got gasoline in my latte. How did that happen? :)

  30. Jim
    Jim July 2, 2008 at 6:45 pm |

    Mr. J: You are forgetting the weakening dollar as a huge factor in the rising price of oil. Oil is an international commodity. Also, the price today reflects partially what anticipated supplies will be in the near future.

  31. Corey
    Corey July 2, 2008 at 10:33 pm |

    Mr.J, In order to effectively price gouge, competing companies would have to (I’m guessing) secretly agree to keep prices high (i.e. form a cartel). But cartels are unstable because the incentive to break from the agreement is too high–sure, you could keep prices artificially high to benefit both you and your competitor, but there’s a much bigger gain to be had from dropping your prices and making profits off the volume.

    Also, I fail to see why the mass of smart liberal economists would miss market manipulation, especially when they called it before in places like California’s energy market deregulation. Who has recognized the price gouging?

    Without seeing the movie, I can offer a fairly reasonable explanation for why GM sat on fuel efficient technology: gas prices were low. Too low, for all the climate effects (and other negative externalities). Why make an electric car (which might have some initial limitations, or merely seem too “different”) if people are still willing to buy a giant gas guzzler? Americans only car about fuel efficiency if it costs them. If gas is $1.50, you better hope the electric car can do all the same things a gas powered one can do, or costs less. Otherwise most people don’t care. Higher gas prices are good. Now we just need a cap and trade system or carbon tax.

  32. Alison
    Alison July 3, 2008 at 1:17 am |

    exholt: So all us Jews are the same kind of people, huh? Seriously, please think before you type. Add that to your earlier bit that “most of the customers I’ve seen who patronize such places seem to be overly pretentious socio-economically privileged fashionistas or hipsters trying to look cool and who are the types to give me nasty stares and sometimes nasty comments for not dressing according to their taste on public streets in NYC” and you really sound like a jerk.

    Guess what – it might just be possible that you are inferring something that isn’t there. If you go into a situation thinking people are going to behave a certain way, you’re likely to see that behavior whether it happens or not.

    By the way, not everyone who goes to Starbucks spends $5 and gets a sentence-long order – the only things I get are drip coffee, brewed tea, or on hot days, their kick-ass shaken iced tea lemonade. It’s a tired stereotype that everyone who goes there is some rich dumbass spending gas tank’s worth of money on a week’s worth of coffee. And when I go to indie coffee shops, their prices are about the same.

  33. exholt
    exholt July 3, 2008 at 9:42 am |

    Guess what – it might just be possible that you are inferring something that isn’t there. If you go into a situation thinking people are going to behave a certain way, you’re likely to see that behavior whether it happens or not.

    I don’t think it was my imagination when I received several unsolicited comments of being dressed as a “slob” or nasty stares from them merely for dressing in ways they disapprove up in my neighborhood as I passed close by the area where it is located on my way home from work/school.

    exholt: So all us Jews are the same kind of people, huh? Seriously, please think before you type.

    No I did not say all White/Jews, but upper/upper-middle class ones who tend to come from the wealthier parts of the area and who do cop an attitude towards those of us who do not conform to their tastes. The attitude they hold towards the rest of us including Jewish neighbors who do not conform to their fashion sense or socio-economic background is quite infuriating and several neighbors have grumbled about this attitude with several wondering “Who the hell do these kids think they are?!!”

    IME, this is mostly a classist issue with a tinge of racism involved for those of us who do not conform to the mainstreamed mostly White-dominated fashionista/hipster culture and who are non-White and/or recent immigrants.

  34. Annamal
    Annamal July 3, 2008 at 7:25 pm |

    The starbucks experience in New Zealand has not been a good one for anyone involved, they came in a day late and a buck short and genrally just came accross as sterile and corporate at a time when coffee had already boomed and people had just started to really notice quality and environment when it came to coffee drinking.

    They really just couldn’t compete with all of the small local cafes and they’ve become the place to go when you want expensive coffee milkshakes.

  35. ouyangdan
    ouyangdan July 4, 2008 at 2:21 am |

    have all the opinions you want about the company, which FTR only sells certified fair trade, and almost all of it far better than fair trade, but we are not talking about a corporation closing 600 stores, we are talking about at least 6000 people who are facing losing a great job, a job where only 20 hrs/wk qualifies you for very good insurance…insurance available to domestic partners/unmarried and same sex couples and their live in families equally. that is hard to come by. they won’t be able to give every displaced employee a new job. they are far from a perfect company (closing 600 stores) but they provide a good job w/ competitive benefits at a decent wage w/o discrimination. don’t forget about the people when you are getting all worked up. in the area i live in a very poor state it is one of the few competitive wage jobs available (most are tourism jobs paying barely over minimum). it has helped a lot of families get by…and a lot of us are uncertain of our futures right now.

  36. denelian
    denelian July 5, 2008 at 4:08 am |

    Corey –

    if the american oil company CEOs are NOT complicite in some sort of price gouging, then please explain to me WHYWHYWHYWHY the US oil companies are still – every fucking quarter!!! – reporting “record breaking NET profits?!?!?!

    there is a line. and after a certain point, a profit is a profit, and there is not a NEED for the bigger profit. just like there isn’t a need to make a new car today that gets 25 MPG and tout it as “fuel effecient” – i have an 8 honda accord that got over 40 MPG!

    i think (and admit that i don’t know you so i could be wrong) that you are confusing capitalism with something that has intrinsic merit. it doesn’t. i can’t actually think of any economic system that DOES.

    as a last thought… do you know why monoloies and oligarcies are bad? and you DO realise that gasoline is an oligarchial business practice anymore, yes?

  37. denelian
    denelian July 5, 2008 at 4:09 am |

    that was an “88”, as in 1988. didn’t even NOTICE that i dropped an 8 lol

  38. I am Irritated. « random babble…

    […] that is going on regarding this big decision. One particularly irksome discussion came from one of my favorite feminist blogs. The post itself wasn’t that bad…it’s the comments that got me. They are not […]

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