Tuesday, October 16, 2007


A lot of people like to dismiss Starbucks because it's a big company, the assumption being that big business is always bad business. But that's not always true. Some large corporations are very ethical. Look at Ben & Jerry's for example. And Starbucks seems like it takes care of its people. I admire that they offer health insurance even for their part time employees. And when young people need to move around for college or other reasons, they seem to offer relocation jobs to most of the people I know who have needed them.

The other thing people like to complain about is that one should always give your business to local businesses first. I think that's a very good idea. But it's not always apparent which businesses are local and which are not. The local Taco Bell is owned and run by an out-of-town absentee owner. The local Burger King and KFC on the other hand are both owned and run by local families who put a lot of money back into the community, support local sports teams, give local teens a good job. The local small town supermarket is owned by people who don't like the town and live two hours away in a big city and the local Safeway is, well, I don't know who owns it but the manager is a local who we know from kids' sports and raises his family here in town.

Most people in town love that we finally have a Starbucks. Some folks complain that it takes away from local coffee houses and my response to them is - WHICH local coffee houses are they supporting? We had one that was never open regular hours and finally died from it's own neglect. A second one was run by people who were always rude to me and I suspect to the rest of their customers as they went out of business. Someone new recently bought them out, maybe they'll do well. A third coffee house is right across from the high school and sells sandwiches as well and does a good business even after Starbucks arrived in town. But our Starbucks is the only one open past late afternoon and I have NEVER seen it empty. Even in a blizzard, there are people trying to get in the doors.

Recently the Starbucks discovered they needed to do some major inside work on their building. Something about a new roof and mold. Since they had to shut down to do the repairs, they decided to go ahead and remodel and upgrade as well and they're expected to be closed down for two to three weeks. They are determined to keep their employees on salary during the period the store is closed. Some employees chose to go work at other Starbucks in northern California during the interim. Others are being kept busy (and paid) taking classes and training workshops. And corporate headquarters sent down this trailer and kiosk that they set up outside the building in the drive-thru.

They are serving coffee here (all their hot drinks but no frapuccinos) during daylight hours until the shop opens up once more. The employees get paid and the drinks are all on the house. Yep. You heard me. FREE. Now, if that isn't a company that goes out of its way to serve their employees and their community, I don't know what is!

One more community photo for the day. Autumn colors at the top of the "hill" in uptown Susanville. And I have more ghost town photos to post - check in tomorrow. Or maybe I'll post pics of the spooky house I found just outside of town. Or the aspens in the mountains. Or.... or.... I can't decide. I guess I'll just see which way the whim blows next time I post.


Blogger Diane said...

How funny that you should post this today. I was standing in line at Starbuck's today, waiting for my Pumpkin Spice latte to warm me during a very rainy afternoon, pondering why it is that people like to slam Starbucks so much. Heck, they were a tiny local Seattle place once, too. The Starbucks in our area are terrific: they always donate products and supplies to local events, participate in community activities, and are great to their employees. They don't complain if you spend all day sitting in their comfy chairs using WiFi. And of course, their bevvies are quite good. I'm lucky in that my town also has a phenomenal tiny, local coffee place with its own roast coffee, but I don't see that one takes away from the other-- each place is crowded all the time, anyway. So, thanks for voicing what I was thinking.

5:47 PM  
Blogger amy said...

My problem with Starbucks has nothing to do with how big it is and everything to do with their coffee. It's terrible. It's burnt. In a pinch I can handle one of their froufy drinks, but I find their straight coffee to be absolutely undrinkable, and, in my coffee-loving opinion, they've pretty much ruined American tastes for coffee. An entire country has confused "burnt" with "strong."

We usually make our own coffee. When I do buy a hot coffee, I'll go to Panera. We had an independent coffee shop I really liked, which was kid-friendly (a big plus for me), but it changed hands and both the food and the atmosphere went downhill. So I don't go there anymore. It's a shame, too, because it used to be a wonderful spot to give myself a break, and the kids would be entertained, too (they had a play area).

6:36 PM  
Blogger Deb R said...

Wow, now that kiosk thing is customer service!!!

I love that last photo.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Miss*Laurence said...

What an interesting view of Starbucks. I don't like coffee, so never go in one, and never though about it, but I can see both sides of the story a lot better now. A franchise can be bought by locals- it employs and serves locals and if there is no competition and noone went out of business because of them, then that's OK.

12:12 PM  

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