Friday, 20 November 2009

Starbucks' Faux Independence

There’s a phony in amongst our local, independent shops. Sipping away the business from real independent retailers, Starbucks has gone all cosy and local on the community.

Starbucks is trying to regain its soul. With thousands of chain store closures around the globe, people were starting to think that was the end of Starbucks saturation. But no, they have come back with another tactic; faux independence.

This chain store is trying to re-link with the community by turning their franchise into a local, high-street coffee house. Starbucks are re-opening stores with a homely feel; cosy furniture, unique artwork (some have Plato quotations on the walls) and one thing that was always missing- smiles. Not to mention pretty mugs without Starbucks printed on it. In fact, there is no Starbucks branding in the entire shop, except for a small, unnoticeable foreword in the shop window: Inspired by Starbucks.

Companies like Starbucks are like cuckoos- ‘brood parasites’ laying their eggs in the nest of other species. They have taken the empty nests of closed-down local shops and laid their eggs there for the surrogate neighbourhood to keep warm and thrive. The impostor is killing off the real thing.

Starbucks are trying to manufacture the independent, local shop experience, but can this really be done? After all, they have monstrous amounts of money at their disposal and they are using £8,000 coffee machines. The links of these counterfeit shops aren’t as strong as the links between neighbourhood shops and local people. But maybe once we have all cottoned on the Starbucks’ ploy we will not be fooled so easily.

Why would Starbucks feel the need to pretend to be like its competitor? Local and independent shops are so compelling right now, but Wedgers and like-minded people have known this all along. Will people be enticed into the fake forceps of Starbucks?

Written by Lauren Ottaway

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