Anti-globalisers and fans of Naomi Klein, rejoice — the wave of Starbucks has broken and may be receding back down the shore. The Seattle-based company is closing a number of its London stores, which has one of the greatest concentrations of Starbucks cafes in the world, after suffering its biggest losses since it opened here in 1998. It will aso try to "de-clone" its remaining stores by introducing faux-local ("fauxcal"?) touches like community notice boards and antique furniture.
It's easy to hypocritically hold Starbucks up for special criticism for their aggressive business practices, and many do — theirs are often the first windows to be smashed by activists at G20 or World Trade Organisation meetings — and for those who define themselves and their individuality by the non-chain businesses they patronise, or simply for fans of the city's independent coffee houses, this will be Good News Indeed. Might make life a little easier, too, for "Starbucks Tourist" Winter.
Starbucks does, however, if we're prepared to look beyond the hyperbole, offer a fairly decent cup of coffee, pretty good pastries, and a place to sit and enjoy them, without being hassled into leaving or guilted into buying another cup. So would we miss them if they went?
Photo by Simon-K