The Wall Street Journal is saying:

Now that Starbucks Corp. has disclosed the 600 locations it wants to shutter, a phenomenon is taking hold: the Save Our Starbucks campaign.

In towns as small as Bloomfield, N.M., and metropolises as large as New York, customers and city officials are starting to write letters, place phone calls, circulate petitions and otherwise plead with the coffee company to change its mind.

“Now that it’s going away, we’re devastated,” said Kate Walker, a facilities manager for software company SunGard Financial Systems who recently learned of a store closing in New York City.

Here’s a list of the closings, by the way. Wel, now, that was the other shoe, I guess… which stores were to close.

It’s interesting to note how many find themselves in this situation.  for all that there’s a bunch of whiners  out there that treat Starbucks the same as they’d treat Wal-Mart,  there’s a lot more people who find themselves upset that their store is scheduled to close.

For all that anti-Starbucks nonsense… which I cannot really take any more seriously than I do the treatment of Wal-Mart… Tom Smith over at Right Coast makes the point that Starbucks has improved the quality of even non-Starbucks coffee, if for no other reason than they raised the bar:

Yes, Starbucks are absurdly ubiquitous, they have overexpanded, and now they’re going to pay the price.  The creative destruction of the market is at work.  But we should remember some key facts and be grateful.

First, remember what coffee was like before Starbucks.  Some of you (though I doubt it, with the readership of this blog) may have cut your teeth on micro-roasted craft coffee shipped straight from Kona or that African critter’s butt to your grinding burr in Seattle.  But most of us drank the usual American swill to be found in law firm coffee rooms and frat house kitchens.  Akk.  Dreadful stuff and I know because I drank enough of it.  “I just made it” meant it had been sitting there getting foul for less than an hour.  “It’s OK” meant you could drink and not die immediately.  I grew up in a house where my Mom drank 20 cups of coffee a day, not one of them not worth forgetting until, you guessed it, Starbucks came along and taught people about coffee the way everybody discovered wine in the 1970s.  So yes, Starbucks is not as good as PetePeet’s. Well, excuse me while I play the grand piano.  No it isn’t.  But the point is, it’s not Maxwell House.

Well, as I told James at OTB (Who passed long the link BTW)

Neither is Maxwell House, anymore, and perhaps that’s the larger point.

A lot of what is said here is true, but let’s be honest; a lot of that is perception. One can still get a reasonably good product from the biggies…(MH, Folgers, etc) with some care, particularly among their specialty labels.

Don’t misundersdtand…The point I’m making isn’t that there are not shifts in quality of the original product… the coffee itself. What I’m suggesting is that we’ve shifted away from an attitude of “It’s just coffee, for crying out loud”, to “Let’s do this right”. I suppose Starbucks did that, at least; hipped folks to the idea that there was “Just coffee” can be far better than what we found boiling away at the bottom of the pot.

See, it’s not just the coffee beans themselves though that’s a large part of it. But I’ve had some VERY bad coffee made from Starbucks beans, because the person making the stuff had no clue what constitutes a good cup of coffee.

Smith, however, goes further:

A common meme is this idea that Starbucks is a hotbed of elitism in the bosom of no nonsense, egalitarian America, as opposed to good ol’ Dunkin Donuts.  This is a lie.  Maybe people who live in La Jolla or Coral Gables get sick of elitism, but for the vast majority of us who live out in the great long tail of American mediocrity, a place that has pretensions to upper middle class culture, however transparently self serving and delusional, is more than welcome.

Exactly. And if we’re truthful, we have to admit that is the secret to the success of Starbucks, and a lot of other coffee chains… even McDonalds recognized this and started remodeling many of it’s outlets to more closely resemble Starbucks stroes… in the lighting, the deep browns and tans of wood and leather… the overall look and feel is of a well-appointed break room in a lawyer’s office, or perhaps a boardroom of anywhere in Corporate America.

The reason such things are a success.. the business model for Starbucks… is when you go out for Coffee… which isn’t exactly a scarce thing and could be obtained anywhere… you tend to prefer something a bit more special… that’s the nature of going out to eat or whatever, these days.  Even places like Dunkin Donuts, are putting a specialty spin on their coffee anymore.

That’s the nature of competition. It improves everyone’s situation. And guess what? IN the end, competition is what the anti-Starbucks movement was rooted in.

I should note that one Starbucks store in my area is closing. Not a shock; the neighbors have been rasing hell about the traffic sround the place and the lack of parking, with the town for years now.  meanwhile, four more have gone into the area within trhee miles of the closing one. Sorry, but I can’t get overly excited about this one.

One thing I will note; Around Casa de Bit there are more in the way of Tim Horton’s than there are of Starbucks, by a factor of 2 at least. Different niche, but still… Tim’s coffee also went up a notch or three, after Starbucks came on the scene….

Addendum: (Bit)

As the conversation has progressed over at OTB, we have gotten into some territory we often get into with these kind of discussions, particularly where leftists are involved: The anti-corporation nonsense. One reader complans about the ‘thuggery’ of Starbucks.  Essentially, he decides to go to the old reliable of duming on the corporation. I respond:

Look, Dodd, there are taste factors involved here of course.. and that’s an individual thing. Call it snaobbery, or whatever. But that wasn’t Tlaloc’s thrust, by my read. Tlaloc leans toward dumping on the corporation which is why I raised the spectre of Wal-Mart. Corporations, after all, always make easy targets…

It’s easy, for example, to blame corporations for fat kids, instead of laying blame on parenting. Those parents are voters, after all. It’s easy to blame the corporation for your chopped finges, saying the evil nasty corporation didn’t want to spend the money $0.01 to put a warning sticker on your mower… when most people with any degree of common sense understand even without the help that putting your hands under a mower that is running might not be the smartest thing. It’s easy to blame the corporation for not warning you that putting your toaster oven in the bathtub with you might cause a problem. It’s easy to blame corporations for oil prices,. easier certainly than blaming governmental policies so dominated by the ‘no drilling’ crowd. It’s easy to blame the demise of small (insert product here) shops on the corporations… rather than reflect on the fact that if the small shops were doing a better job, they’d remain in business. etc, etc.

All of this is of a kind with most of the anti-Starbucks nonsense I see, such as what Tlaloc came up with here. Sorry, I’m unimpressed by it.

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