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Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy, coming to you this week from Seattle, where I am visiting the new Starbucks Reserve store that was opened on the ground floor of the company’s headquarters, just south of Safeco Field.
In a lot of ways, the Reserve Store is a somewhat smaller version of the Roastery store that Starbucks opened elsewhere in Seattle, and that has been an enormous success for the company. (I wrote about it here.)
Unlike the Roastery, where they - natch - roast coffee beans, this store has no such facility. What it does have is an enormous Princi Bakery - Starbucks became a global licensee of and investor in the Princi bakery brand in 2016; Princi was launched in Italy in 1986 and specializes in sandwiches, pizzas and desserts. The bakery dominates the format, and they’re making enough product here that they’re sending it to the Roastery … and the Roastery, in turn, is sending roasted beans here to be turned into all sorts of specialty coffee drinks that you can’t get at a run of the mill Starbucks.
Now, Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz has said he’d like to have a thousand of these, which strikes me as a little over-ambitious. In fact, one of the employees inside sort of rolled his eyes when we talked about the expansion plans. One thousand is a pretty big number, and if the economy goes south, or just slides into recession, and people are resistant to spending four bucks on a latte, I’m not sure that they’ll spend the seven or eight bucks that a specialty drink costs here. So I’m not sure about the company’s ability to hit that number.
But having gone inside and enjoyed a nice lunch, and seen a healthy number of people doing the same, here’s what I do like about it - this is an audacious idea. It is kind of audacious to think you can open a thousand of these. It is a big swing, and I like it when retailers take big swings, challenging themselves to serve the customer differently with a store concept that pushes the envelope a bit.
I don’t know if this is a smart play, or if it’ll work long-term. But there is something to be said for trying something different. There’s a lesson to be learned from a company that is being anything but complacent.
That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: