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The Boston Globe reports that Starbucks is testing a new kind of location – a store in Oxford, Alabama, “a blue-collar burg in the northeast corner of Alabama, midway between Atlanta and Birmingham.” The store is located near an off-ramp on I-20, “a tad out of place among Flying-J truck stops and the Waffle House.”

Here’s the issue that Starbucks has to deal with…and, in fact, is confronting head-on, according to the Globe:

“As the country's chief barista employer hangs its green sign on the interstate and on rural Main Streets, some marketing specialists say it's a case of urban values on the lam, the spread of the caffeine-fueled liberal salon into conservative corners of the country. But whether the sophisticated Starbucks ''experience" and its dark brew can make inroads into the heartland, some say, is a matter of politics as much as palate.”
KC's View:
The question seems to be whether Starbucks can survive or have any appeal in a marketplace seen as more friendly to Krispy Kreme.

But we actually think that while it isn’t a bad question to ask, the answer will be yet another successful move for Starbucks.

Sure, there may be a red state/blue state divide that it has to deal with. And maybe certain locations will be less friendly to some of its ancillary lines of CDs (though we’re not even sure that is true).

But to a great extent, Starbucks appeal as a cultural icon will transcend political differences and in most cases will make such rural experiments successful. There probably will be cases where it will run into problems because of some of its political positions, but we suspect these will be fewer than some expect. After all, it hardly is a foreign company – it is a uniquely American brand that everybody knows about, even if they live in a town that never had one before.

Let’s not forget that Starbucks also operates in Australia, Austria, Beijing, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

And some of those places are at least as foreign to the Starbucks philosophy as Oxford, Alabama.