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A Return to Relevance?

Some of you may have been tracking the moves of Starbucks and its renovation of the 15th Ave store in Seattle to transform it into something a little more down to earth. The shop has been renamed 15th Ave Coffee & Tea and aesthetically revamped to look more like your neighborhood cafe and less like its cookie cutter brethren -- they even have community spaces for performance, art and meetings. Oh, and a Pooch of the Month feature, which is just plain marketing savvy in a dog-crazy city like Seattle.

The lead on this project came into the store earlier this week to pick-up a few last minute items, and he was lamenting a bit that people were talking negatively about the store even before it opened. He felt it was being judged not on its individual merits, but on its lineage -- everyone likes to complain about the big companies, whoever they may be and regardless of industry, so this is really no different. Starbucks is an easy target for many to rage against, and, let's be honest here, their business practices have often given more than enough ammunition to their local competition.

But is there anything so wrong in an effort to rediscover the initial roots of a company and possibly expand on them in a new way? In a resetting economic environment, does the search for relevance in the marketplace have to be anything other than what is necessary for survival? It's true, this shop was going to be closed down, until Cohen was offered the opportunity to do something different -- and that difference maintained jobs in an increasingly virulent employment market. So, if anything, it's worth exploring and keeping an open mind because, instead of leaving another open storefront, someone got creative and is trying to take things back to the drawing board a bit.

We're definitely going to check it out. They're opening up today and we wish them well!

2 thoughts on “A Return to Relevance?”

  • Steve

    Starbuck's is Starbuck's regardless of the name and costume. They have already announced that if the first few ambitious makeover experiments work out, they will expand this image. So instead of a Starbuck's on every corner we will have a Neighborhood Coffee & Tea sShop on every corner.

  • dave

    Bravo to Starbucks for trying to get back to decent coffee.

    I find it hilarious (yet also sad) that the coffee-elitists, who decry the cookie-cutting corporate coffee houses, are prejusticed against one of those large corps trying to do things on a neighborhood scope.

    I say (again) bravo to Starbucks. If they can offer great roasts (no char, please) and great espresso, they will succeed. Better yet is if they can scale this out (again avoiding the uniformity of char) so that those few places with great cafes will now have another option...

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