One Short Black

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Like many people, I didn’t know whether to feel sorrow or amusement when Starbucks came to Australia 5 or 6 years ago and opened a store in Lygon Street, of all places. Every afternoon I would stroll down the pavement past the bustling tables outside all the caf├ęs, and then pass through the dead, sucking void where Starbucks had set up shop.
It seemed like it never had more than three punters in it: a middle-aged American couple, and a Japanese tourist wearing hip-hop gear. Was I deluding myself into thinking that the international chain of overpriced crap coffee was doomed to failure in Melbourne? Was I overestimating the ability to resist the millions of dollars’ worth of pressure the corporation could use to grind down the competition and the public, year after year?
Starbucks will close 70% of its Australian stores and slash more than half of its workforce…
Across the country, the company’s 84 cafes closed yesterday at 2pm…. Although the list of the stores to be closed has not been released, it is believed the controversial Starbucks shop in Lygon Street, Carlton, is among them….
Starbucks president Howard Schultz ruled out closing other stores internationally and cited “challenges unique to the Australian market”. Retail analyst Barry Urquhart said Starbucks failed in Australia in part “because they didn’t understand and respect the unique and differing characteristics of the Australian coffee consumer”.