Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.
Starbucks unveils eco-friendly, neighborhood-tailored store designs
Posted by Melissa Allison
Starbucks is opening far fewer stores these days than it used to, but it wants the ones it does open to be environmentally friendly, to be made with local materials, and to have new looks that reflect the neighborhoods they're in.
The first example opened in March across the street from Pike Place Market in Seattle, which has a more rustic look than most Starbucks' stores including a coffee bar that includes scrap leather from shoe and automobile factories, a long "community table" from a local restaurant, and cabinets made from fallen trees in Seattle.
This month, it unveiled a second concept at its Paris Disney Village store, where some materials came from reclaimed Champagne racks and recycled mobile phone parts.
On Tuesday, it will reopen a store at University Village in Seattle with cabinets and wall fixtures made from Douglas fir reclaimed from school bleachers and redwood siding outside the store that was reclaimed from hop vine poles in eastern Washington.
"Ultimately, we hope customers will feel an enhanced sense of community, a deeper connection to our coffee heritage and a greater level of commitment to environmental consciousness," Starbucks' president of global development, Arthur Rubinfeld, said in a release. He's credited with creating Starbucks' look in the early 1990s and returned to Starbucks last year shortly after Howard Schultz resumed the CEO role.
Starbucks will seek LEED certification -- an indication of environmental friendliness -- for all new company-owned stores beginning next year. (Company-owned stores do not include most shops in airports, grocery stores, etc.)
After opening roughly seven stores a day in its heyday, Starbucks is now closing more company-operated stores than it opens. This fiscal year, it expects to open 95 new company-owned stores in the U.S. and 145 in other countries. At the same time, it plans to close 605 company-owned stores worldwide.
Anyone who read my earlier post (about the coffee wars bringing more business for everybody) knows that I conjectured that Starbucks' 4 percent stock hike this morning might have something to do with the new store designs.
Probably not, according to Sharon Zackfia, an analyst at William Blair & Co.: "The new store designs are interesting and can help localize the flavor of Starbucks, but is it going to single-handedly reverse comp trends? No. I'm more focused on the improvement we're starting to see in consumer confidence and the work they're doing in lean labor. This [store design] is good around edges, but there are so many moving parts that from a stock perspective, it's interesting but likely not going to be material in my opinion."
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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