The Independent Coffee Shop vs. Starbucks Debate

Posted by: Nick Leiber on June 25, 2009

coffee.jpg By educating consumers about decent coffee, Starbucks made it possible for independent coffee shops to gain a foothold in communities across America. That’s one thesis in Bryant Simon’s new book, Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks, which is due in stores October 9. It’s sure to spark debate because it argues the idea that chains crush independent stores is partially wrong.

Reuters published a good piece, Is Starbucks Really a Small Business Killer? about the book today. We tackled the indies vs. Starbucks debate last summer, in this story, Vying with Starbucks: A Love-Hate Thing, and slide show, Independent Coffee Shops Speak Up, when Starbucks announced it was closing 600 stores.

It’s a debate that obviously extends outside the coffee shop as well, with convincing arguments and counterarguments regularly cropping up in books like Big Box-Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses and Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America.

Reader Comments

Domenick Celentano

July 1, 2009 6:45 PM

Hi Nick,

Starbucks is famous for selling what they termed the "third place". There are 3 places, home, work and then a third that provides some social environment/networking/escape, etc.

The smart indie operators understand that they are not in business to sell coffee, but to seel the environment... the coffee gets dragged along.

In my town, a new independent opened up and is florusihing because they are focusing on a place to go for entertainment and meeting people. They have something going most Fridays and Saturdays and have standing room only.

So independents need to study Starbucks. My professor from St Joes University in Phila teaches in Marketing... Borrow, Adapt, Adopt.

This is good advice for the rest of the industry looking to compete with Starbucks.

Dom

Domenick Celentano

July 1, 2009 6:45 PM

Hi Nick,

Starbucks is famous for selling what they termed the "third place". There are 3 places, home, work and then a third that provides some social environment/networking/escape, etc.

The smart indie operators understand that they are not in business to sell coffee, but to seel the environment... the coffee gets dragged along.

In my town, a new independent opened up and is florusihing because they are focusing on a place to go for entertainment and meeting people. They have something going most Fridays and Saturdays and have standing room only.

So independents need to study Starbucks. My professor from St Joes University in Phila teaches in Marketing... Borrow, Adapt, Adopt.

This is good advice for the rest of the industry looking to compete with Starbucks.

Dom

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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