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Starbucks goes Wal-Mart

I’m willing to guess that if you were like millions of others, me included, you didn’t know you had a ‘location/coffee’ problem until you were in college and needed a quiet, hip, and sometimes distracting place to study. Starbucks  filled that void for me, but lately it feels more and more like a wal mart and less and less like the idealized location which represented my youthful quest for knowledge.

I am sure you are aware Starbucks has just introduced an instant coffee. I’m sure it’s good, and I’m sure it will be successful. But, that’s not the Starbucks I signed up for. I signed up for the unique place. Herein lies the company dilemma: does it lose authenticity by opening up 10s of thousands of stores all over the world and create mass produced products or does it stay small and grow an intense group of fans. It has to grow big, it has to go mainstream, and it’s exactly what I would do if it was my company.When I go to Starbucks the atmosphere that I am nostalgic about isn’t the quality of the coffee but the experience of the location. It is inevitable with focus on mass-product creation that focus will shift.

Therefore, I’m on the prowl looking for a coffee shop with the things Starbucks gave up to go ‘wal-mart’. I want the angry/mysterious barista’s who take their black uniform further with lipstick and eyeliner. I want wall plugs for my computer.

Kudos to Starbucks for creating a market and a void only they could fill in my life, but now as they reach beyond what made them special to me the void creeps back and am on the look out for the same experience which inexplicably makes you feel smarter, more hip, and more unique than anyone buying a $4 cup of coffee should feel.

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