Saturday, August 02, 2008

Starbucks closing, Hooray

In 2001, on a Sunday morning in Auckland, I visited my first Starbucks. They were already in Sydney but not located where I hung out. However I was not impressed.

Occasionally I have visited the one at Circular Quay after the afternoon Symphony at the Opera House (about 4pm) because the other coffee shops nearby have closed catering mainly for the officeworker trade, are too expensive (tourist trade) or have nowhere sheltered to sit. Lately we have preferred to go without, the coffee is awful.

I did visit one at LA airport and another in the Garden District of New Orleans in 2007 and both times the experience was even worse than the Quay. "Dishwater" comes to mind.
Now they are closing 61 0f the 84 stores in Australia, sadly not the one at the Quay, I guess the tourists will keep it open.

I agree with the comments in the Herald. A nearby Gloria Jeans (my preferred chain) manager to one branch that is closing.
He said he did not expect his business to benefit from the closure of the nearby Starbucks because the customers who went there were "not interested in real coffee anyway".

and another comment from a customer

"why would you want to sit around a pretend lounge room drinking a weak and expensive coffee, when you can go around the corner and have the real thing?"

The Herald writer concluded.
In my view, the key reason that they have been so unsuccessful in Australia is their inability to adjust to local market conditions. While the company's British and Asia expansion took it to markets without strong coffee traditions, Australia, with its history of European immigration, was always going to be a test. Starbucks has been trying to sell a watered down product in one of the most sophisticated and lively coffee markets in the world.

Why I just love ordering 'un expresso" in Paris and yes, the Turkish coffee in Istanbul was heavenly. Another of the many reasons to be thankful for Australia's migration program.


Fran said...

I do visit Starbucks, but not all the time. When I was working in Manhattan, I did visit quite a bit.

It is a little freakily offensive- a little (a lot actually) to me when I visit a foreign country and see McDonald's, KFC, now Starbucks. Ick!

I don't go to other countries to frequent places that I don't really frequent at home.

Admission however... when Mr He Is and I were in Spain last year, I did go to Starbucks every day. He sleeps late, so I would be out walking and so forth, having a lovely cafe con leche with the locals. Then I would look at my watch, go to the Starbucks which did have the coffee to take away and bring it to the hotel room to lure the man into life!

Brian R said...

Thanks Fran. Hopefully while we can share similar tastes in our fundamental beliefs, we can differ in food and drink :-) I must admit to going to McDonalds several times on my recent trip to Europe. I am rather addicted to Big Macs but generally chose it for convenience such as when leaving the opera in Vienna after 10pm, not having eaten before the 5.30pm start. However I do not like their coffee even though free to me, as a senior, here in Aust. Have you really climbed Macchu Picchu, (green with envy)?

Davis said...

Never drink the stuff - appalling! Sadly none of the shops in Philadelphia will be closing this time 'round.

Last evening I went with a friend to the mall - something I detest. It was fascinating in that of the hundreds of shops in the mall and the neighborhood surrounding it (this was New Jersey by the way) not one - not one - was an independent business...

Fran said...

Hahaha! Trust me Brian, I am not as noble (pardon the pun my friend!) as I might sound.

I have eaten many a Big Mac in a place I needed a passport to get to.

FWIW McDonald's in the US has finally gotten good coffee and are actually hurting Starbucks because it is good and so much cheaper, lattes and all.

Go figure.

As for Machu Picchu, yes I did go and it was truly the trip of a lifetime and a dream come true. The avatar photo is one of me on top of Wayna Picchu, which is the tall peak one often sees when looking at a shot of MP. In fact when you look at the background, that is MP down below me.

What an adventure climbing that. It was a challenge for me as I am terrified of heights.

That said, it was life changing to do so!

Feel free to write or ask about any of my travels, I am always happy to discuss them.

Brian R said...

Always happy to discuss travelling Fran, although my future looks a bit more restricted due to the world economy and what it has done to my superannuation funds. I am also terrified of heights.