Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Starbucks Economy

From my house, within a rough two mile radius, there are four (4) Starbucks locations, two (2) more within Farm Fresh stores, two (2) more within Barnes & Noble stores, and one (1) inside a shopping mall - making a total of about nine (9) places I can buy a cup of Starbucks branded coffee.  

There are quite a few more in a larger 5 mile radius as well, all within the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia.  With an estimated population of 427,000 (2006 est.), it makes Virginia Beach the single most populated city in the state.  Only two (2) of these locations have a drive-through window.

Because I know some people will challenge my numbers, here's the breakdown:
  • S. Independence Blvd near I-264
  • S. Independence Blvd at intersection with Virginia Beach Blvd
  • Virginia Beach Blvd near Rosemont Rd.
  • Lynnhaven Parkway
  • Farm Fresh on Virginia Beach Blvd
  • Farm Fresh on Holland Rd.
  • Barnes & Noble at Town Center
  • Barnes & Noble inside Lynnhaven Mall
  • Lynnhaven Mall center court
On any given weekday, I pass two on the way to work (but I don't have time to stop unfornuately), and on the weekends I often pass three or four as I run errands.  Wow.  That's a lot of Starbucks indeed.  I average about one cup per week now.  At one time I was consuming about one cup per day (on average), which was fiscally unsustainable for me.  Oh well.  Exuberance has its price, as we're all seeing play out in the current economic news.

For those that scoff at Starbucks as overpriced, "hoity-toity" coffee, all I can say is: everyone has their own opinion.  I like their coffee products.  I like the atmosphere of many of their houses too.  I have tried other coffees, like McDonalds and Dunkin, but they taste like something drained from a colostomy bag to me.  And I would know.  Oddly enough, 7-11 coffee doesn't bother me like those two others.  But I'm odd too.

But I also cannot ignore the fact that they're operating on a fence with competition creeping in from many sides.  And this is competition with diversified operations, so they can afford to take a loss in the short term, especially McDonalds, with their relatively strong revenues and stock values.  With the recent news of additional cutbacks at Starbucks, I expect a few of these nine locations to close up in 2009, but I'm hoping a few stay open, within short driving of my home.  Otherwise, I may give up on coffee entirely, rather than drink cesspool drainage and "get used to it" as if it was actually "good".  I never liked that stuff when I worked construction twenty-odd years ago, and I don't like it now either.  I sound like Andy Rooney, but oh well.  Just a thought.
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