Monday, November 3, 2008
I Like Starbucks
A lot of people hate Starbucks. They've been accused of using anti-competitive business strategies, like allowing certain locations to operate at a loss in order to run smaller, independent competitors out of business. They're also often disparaged, at home and abroad, as representing the metastasis of American-style consumerism--an aesthetically repulsive, morally dubious, homogeneous, tacky and inauthentic update on the same old mercantile "bourgeois" culture that populists and aristocrats alike have been hating on, in one form or another, since feudalism ended.
Permit me to digress for a moment: I have 2 coffeeshops in my hometown. One (let's call it "Rim Rorton's") has plastic booths and stools bolted to the floor, a 30 minute time limit in their seating area, and miserable employees who make minimum wage and wear humiliating fast food-style uniforms. The other ("B***** Street Cafe") is an independent establishment wherein a staff of slouching, moody undergraduate hipsters (who also make minimum wage) complete orders at their leisure, get stoned at work, and generally act like their customers should be grateful to get their coffee at all.
I like Starbucks. They're friendly, professional, relatively consistent, and not too expensive. Sure, they're only asking, "How are you today?" because they want my money, but that's better than a "Fuck you, Jack" from people who are still taking my money. If Naomi Klein and Kalle Lasn wanted to serve me better coffee for cheaper, and maybe throw in a heartfelt hug or handshake and a hot meal for the homeless in the bargain, then I'd happily throw my $1.70 their way. In the meantime, I'll get my morning coffee at Starbucks, and I won't feel guilty about it.
(Image from www.therealestatebloggers.com.)