we used to work right across the street from one of the nicest starbucks around. we’d walk through the doors in the morning, each morning. we’d attach ourself to the tail end of the rush, look up to catch the eye of the barista, winking as he got to work. by the time we’d reach the cash, our drink would be served directly to us with a smile, a morning burst of good chi etched on the side beside the tall order: the bras and ranties. it was divine.
it was, as it was intended, our third place: another comfort spot, a part of a routine. as it was for so many. we were being spoon-fed an iconic brand experience model, and we were buying every wasted minute of it. slurping as we ate it up.
now, only a handful of years later, our morning starbucks experience makes us fume. the worst chi buster of all. we leave late. stressed. frustrated. rantie-ing about how a person can possibly do something day in, day out and somehow not improve. about operational inefficiencies and declining customer service standards. about the human race.
somehow a lesson in logic seems in order. open storefronts within blocks of each other and watch the seams unravel. cannibalization of sales, customer base, service standards. degradation of a key brand pillar: the perception of upmarket exclusivity. plasticization (and pesticidation) of the heart of the experience: the coffee. the coffee tastes like shit, and even the house brew is not fair trade. capitalism at its best.
there’s the smell of mcdonald’s in the air, both the operations model as much as those wretched breakfast sandwiches. this is a plastic, american experience churned out, eaten up by the zombies. the consuming masses. never (ever) again. we doth declare it.