Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Sunday, July 6, 2008

12,000 to lose their jobs, assholes celebrate

I've heard several people commenting on the fact that Starbucks will be closing some 600 stores with glee in their voices. Somehow, they think this is a good thing. Some believe it will result in little indie cafes opening up (which never happens in Reality... when a coffee shop closes around here, nothing seems to take its place) and others are just assholes who seem to take delight in the fact that people will be losing their livelihoods.

I tend to zip through a Starbucks drive-thru about a week. There is a little coffee shop I prefer that gives me my mochas for less than half of what Starbucks charges, so I go there more because of purely financial reasons. However, Starbucks does generally taste better, although it depends on the barista. (Although, more and more they're both losing out on my money, as I'm making huge pots at home, dumping fat-free vanilla creamer in my cups, and saving lots of cash.)

But I sure as hell am not deriving any pleasure from the news that people are losing their jobs. No one ever forced me to go Starbucks and pay $4+ for a cup of coffee or $3 for a breakfast sandwich (which was quite tasty BTW).

I truly can't relate to some of my friends, nor to the dimwits quoted in this article from Reuters. I can't derive pleasure from people losing their jobs. (Well, with some exceptions. I'd celebrate if Melinda Vigliotti of New York lost her job.)

Some coffee drinkers gleeful over Starbucks financial troubles
By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - One coffee drinker's bad news is another coffee drinker's good news, it seems.

Financial woes at Starbucks Corp., which is planning to close 600 underperforming U.S. stores and lay off 12,000 employees, is evoking glee and little sympathy from aficionados who say they resent the coffee shop giant and favor small independent cafes.

"I'm so happy. I'm so not a Starbucks person," said Melinda Vigliotti, sipping iced coffee at the Irving Farm Coffee House in New York. "I believe in supporting small businesses. Starbucks, bye-bye."

Seattle-based Starbucks burst onto the national scene in the 1990s and grew to more than 6,000 locations around the world. But with cups of coffee that can cost several dollars, it faces a slowing economy and slowed consumer spending.

"Starbucks has really created a coffee culture, raising awareness of good coffee, which is good for independents," said Carol Watson, owner of the Milk and Honey coffee shop in Chicago. "But on the other hand, they're on practically every corner, and that makes it tough on the little guy too."

In Birmingham, Alabama, retiree Peggy Bonfield, drinking coffee at the Crestwood Coffee Shop, said: "When a Starbucks closes, it makes room for a local business to start. I consider that good news."

The schadenfreude of coffee drinkers drawing satisfaction from another's misfortune is part of the popular culture that enjoys the downfall of companies or celebrities, said Jim Carroll, a Canadian-based trends and innovation expert.

"There are a lot of people out there who take delight in seeing an icon torn down by the masses," he said.

Starbucks fell victim to a rapid change in attitude, fueled by Internet bloggers complaining endlessly about everything from layoffs to its breakfast sandwiches, he said.

"Starbucks was a cool brand, and then all of a sudden it's not a cool brand," he said. "There's this new global consciousness that is out there that can suddenly shift."

New York Web designer Zachary Thacher, who favors Greenwich Village's cafes, said he avoids Starbucks. "They've commoditized cafe culture, which is why I don't go," he said.

But it's not as though Starbucks doesn't have defenders.

"It's convenient," said Anthony Castro, sitting in a Starbucks near his job at New York's Museum of Modern Art. "I know what to expect."

In Birmingham, Crestwood regular Gary Adkins said he felt Starbucks gave employees good salaries and benefits.

Not everyone felt strongly. "It's just coffee," said Marc Poulin, a systems administrator at Zibetto Espresso Bar in New York. "If I was an investor, I'd care."

(Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor, Andrew Stern and Verna Gates; editing by Todd Eastham and Steve Miller)

No comments:

Post a Comment