Thursday, January 04, 2007

8 New Ways To Kick An Old Dog (habit...I meant habit)

First off, I'm a dog lover and would never kick a real one unless it was chewing off a limb. The metaphoric hound I speak of though, is Starbucks---the coffee people. I've mentioned them before and often. They've clearly got me... and as my 'mug shot' (an Ardell DellaLoggia-ism) in the sidebar clearly shows, it is one of the few remaining vices I'm not ready to let go of. Keep this in mind for a moment as I'm actually writing this article in response to a comment I received on another Blog I post on.

I was making mention of the fact that it seems that every available residential corner 'ripe' for Development on the North Side of Chicago either has, or is slated to have, a Starbucks on the sidewalk level. For those of you not in the 'know,' the neighborhood of Lincoln Park I live and work in is a densely populated section of the city, jammed shoulder to shoulder (this is the City with Big Shoulders, by the way) with new construction projects--retail below with condos and lofts above. This is unique to the busier main street annexes of most new neighborhoods, with single family homes and four level townhouses generally situated on the quieter side streets--luxury single family homes. The land they're perched on sells for a half-million minimum these days and that's even with a relative down tick in new construction housing starts. Let's just call it upscale, for Real Estate purposes.

Anyway, the commentor posed the question, it a "prerequisite for gentrification to have a Starbucks on every available corner" these days? The commentor is a Realtor from Knoxville where I'm pretty sure whiskey is the beverage of choice (not to imply he isn't a God fearing gentleman or didn't take the 'pledge' as a youth) so I decided to do a little snooping around using the patented Starbucks Locator before I responded to my new southern friend. This is what I found:

* There are 112 Starbucks within 5 miles of my home, that's 40 blocks in city terms. I'm not even sure what a mile exactly is these days but my last car didn't even get 80 blocks to the gallon if that means anything.

* Knoxville has a total of 5 Starbucks--one is on campus and another is apparently in the Hilton.
* All of China has 165 as of this writing but many, many, many more are expected, I hear.

So if the presence of a Starbucks is indeed an indicator, the question really should be "Is Chicago more like Knoxville or Mainland China as far as Development goes?" I don't know. I sort of like Chinese Food and although I've never actually eaten Knoxville Food I have made mention in a previous post about my in-laws from Tennessee and, as much as I love them personally, how I'm not a big fan of any dish that has the word casserole in its title.

I also discovered that the annual income of the average Chinese citizen is around $3,800 so it goes without saying that most stores there do not have condominiums above them. There might not even be condominiums there, period. And at that amount of income, the stores they do have may very well not even serve coffee. Lest I digress much more, I will share with you my initial response to the comment(or) and how I came up with 7 more since the original posting. All of these should prove reasons enough for me to consider moving to a less 'happening' neighborhood or at the very least, try and kick the coffee habit for good--but with a Grande Costa Rican Blend in the cup next to my keyboard I write:

The new requirement, I propose, is that there must be a new Starbucks inside any existing Starbucks-thus creating a Starbucks 'squared' as it were--a Starbucks to the 2nd Power for all you budding String Theorists.

2) No more than three Starbucks on any 4 corner intersection. The sole remaining corner must be reserved as a stroller parking area for the toddling Starbuckonians of the future.

3) A FICO score of at least 620 is required for pre-approval of any Starbucks Coffee Card.(except of course, in China)

4) No predatory lending allowed for any single beverage (coffee, not whiskey) costing more than $7.00 not including tip and tax.

5) The open bottom rack below the glassed-in scone and pastry display of every Starbucks store must be checked three times daily for the E-Coli virus or at the very least Mumps, as all those juice bottles and food items are constantly being handled, touched and licked by the owner/occupants of previously mentioned strollers and perambulators parked on corner 4.

6) At least one Starbucks Manager per 8 hour shift must not be a Vegan.

7) A printed psychological Disclosure, clearly written and posted in a prominent place by the register, is to explain why I should leave a tip for a beverage I had to use an American Express Gold Card to buy and exactly why it is that I feel guilty if I don't. This Disclosure should also direct any interested party to one of the various 'Self-Help' groups already situated in the sofa area of the store at any given time of day.

8) Any neighborhood Starbucks location may not be used as a valid business address for IRS purposes no matter how many hours a day an individual works on a laptop there.

You see, it's a demographic thing. And its really not about Starbucks per se but its customers--myself included. This is who we build for and who I sell to and represent. They are of child bearing age for the most part and although it wasn't the way I was raised, the trend today is to include all family members no matter how young, in day to day events. (They didn't tell us nothin' when I was growing up.) My Broker calls it the 'Suburbanization of Chicago.' Anyway, my kid will be 29 on her next birthday so I wonder why I even care...

And if I have to get in my car and drive to get a cup of coffee then I don't want to live there, either. If I need to access a WiFi signal in the middle of my day then I have 112 choices in the 40 block area that I work in. And what the heck, I use American Express for just about every other thing I buy anyway. And to quote Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, "...Hey, I'm Italian. I tip everybody." So the answer to the comment is this writer's opinion it is a prerequisite to have a Starbucks in, or at least close to, any new neighborhood Development. I just won't eat anything off that bottom shelf.

image by martin.netwg

Geno Petro


  1. Hey Christine, I always answer my Haloscan Sidebar comments over in this 'Comment' section so I hope you find this response. You better click on the Starbucks Locator in my article to see if there is a store in Kankeekee. Good news is there are so many cows around there you won't need powdered milk no matter how mmany kids you have.

  2. Jay T...thanks for the comment. Truth is, S-bucks is totally primed for the next generation--and its a 'lifelong' customer, not just one demographic like Toys R' Us. A week doesn't go by where I dont hear a child asking to "go to Starbucks" or a mother asking the child if they want to stop there on the way home. Not sure if anyone who's 3 now will be going to Walmart in 20 years but its a pretty safe bet they will going for one of those toffee whipped things...for sure.

  3. Hey Sis, are not showing your age as there have been many 14 year old mothers in this world although most of them are from a few states over and did not go on the get a graduate degree from Penn. And as far as my 12 year old niece...we all know that 12 is the new 24! This rule applies of course until you reach 40 when 40 then becomes the new 24. Get it?