6 Coffeestores Closing in Portland area

Albert Kaufman

This news item caught my eye last week, though it was buried in a remote part of the O - Starbucks shutting 6 stores in Oregon, 1 in SW Washington. I was sitting at the time in the little place at the corner of 28th and Stark and my heart did a little dance.

The locations that are closing are:

Tillamook: 1701 Wilson River Loop Road
Beaverton: 1800 NW Evergreen Parkway
Hillsboro: 1887 NW 188th Ave.
Portland: 1864 SE Hawthorne
Portland: 2045 SE Division
Portland: 11860 SE 82nd
Vancouver: 6700 NE 162nd

I'm excited about this - I think it will make room for more local coffeeshops and perhaps tea/chai shops.

For more info on this development, here's an interesting article in Adbusters.


Comments

  • (Show?)

    Speaking as co-owner of a local coffee establishment (Sunny Day Coffee and Fresh Baked Treats at NW 23rd and Everett, makers of "the perfect scone" according to Better Homes and Gardens ... the cute dude who makes 'em is my partner) I have mixed feelings about Starbucks.

    It's easy to bash the big guy in any market. At the same time, Starbucks created this market, and left a very long coattail. Without them, it's unlikely we'd have most of the local shops at all. How many places could you get espresso downtown "Before Starbucks": Coffee Ritz, Kobos, the Metro on Broadway, and maybe a few restaurants? Now, you can't walk a block without hearing a grinder, and at least half those places have no green mermaid on the sign. That mermaid built an entirely new market and industry out of almost nothing.

    They also treat their employees and vendors very well, in relative terms. As "corporate citizens" go, they're decent folk. So, ultimately, I don't care too much one way or another about these closures, other than that some local folks lost their jobs in the process. Which always sucks.

    Hm. Well ... okay. It woulda been nice if they'd closed up one of their shops on NW 23rd (grin) ...

  • (Show?)

    Gotta wonder what the traffic cops are going to do when the Hawthorne shop closes. I can always count on them being at that Starbucks when us commuters rage our way toward downtown durimg the rush hour...

  • Jeff (unverified)
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    Yeah too bad about all those suckers who just lost their jobs and their health insurance. That's what they get for working for a corporation, eh Albert?

    Makes my heart dance too. As long as there is the ever so slight possibility that we might get more independent coffee shops I don't give a fuck about those employees that are getting laid off.

    I bet they went to work for Starbucks just because they wanted to join a fortune 500 company. I'm sure none of them needed a paycheck or god-forbid, benefits or health insurance....

    Yup, my heart continues to dance.....

  • Jake Oken-Berg (unverified)
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    I'm a big believer in supporting local coffeehouses including one of my favorites -- Stumptown Coffee -- since they only carry fair-trade coffee. However, I don't share your excitement that the six Starbucks closings "will make room for more local coffeeshops and perhaps tea/chai shops."

    The evidence just doesn't support that Starbucks has stifled the creation of "Mom and Pop" coffeehouses. As indicated in the book "Starbucked" and reported by Willamette Week last November, Starbucks has helped create greater awareness of coffee and independent coffeehouses have grown tremendously during the last decade:

    Even between 2000 and 2005, long after the ascendance of Starbucks, the number of independent coffeehouses in the United States increased more than 40 percent—from 9,800 to just under 14,000. The failure rate for new coffee houses is incredibly low—only 10 percent, according to the market research firm Mintel—which means a sizable majority of the independents stay in business regardless of where Starbucks drops its stores.

    The article also notes one owner purposely opening coffeeshops right next to Starbucks because of the incredible halo effect: "They’ll do all of your marketing for you, and your sales will soar."

    Don't get me wrong, I appreciate having local variety instead of international homogenization. But I now have several more local coffeehouses to frequent in Portland than I did a decade ago and I'm not sure the Starbucks closing will appreciably accelerate that trend.

  • ws (unverified)
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    There's things I definitely don't like about Starbuck's business model. This idea of growing and growing a company until it saturates the market, aggressively working to drive out the competition, large and small, diminishing quality in the process, is one of its least attractive attributes. So now, as many people have no doubt anticipated for some time, one of that business model's nasty quirks has started to reach around and bite Starbuck's in the ass. Wonder how deep the bite will ultimately be.

    This Starbuck's location: Portland: 2045 SE Division... . Of course, some of you may remember it was that particular location at what's referred to as '7 Corners' in the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood, whose approval was highly contested and protested by certain neighborhood residents. After construction, the store was firebombed. Apparently the store didn't do well enough to make the cut, so...'bye-bye'.

    For my money, Starbuck's is to be respected for bringing people up to speed on the idea and importance of the 'third place'. Not that it didn't exist before Starbucks in other forms to some extent, but people forget. They have to be reminded from time to time. It's nice too, not having to resort to a bar to find that kind of place.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    Great - Starbucks which helped with medical insurance closes and they are the evil corporation.

    Small coffee shops which don't pay beenfits open up in their place. What an advance!

  • (Show?)

    The firebombed one, at 20th and Division, formed a partnership with my son's school, Winterhaven, and gave us coffee for PTSA gatherings and other such perks. They were really great to us.

    On the other hand, the coffee house that you were sitting at at 28th and Stark, is, I bet, Mojo's, which has Obama Sundays (percentage goes to Obama on Sunday).

    Both good..both favorites.

  • Jerry (unverified)
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    It is sad that we have a post like this. The above comments help demonstrate why. A good friend of mine selects their small coffee shop locations based on locations of Starbucks. Think of how Starbucks has been a strong contributor to neighborhoods in all the ways we can think of. What is the difference between a small "S Corp" that some small coffee shops employ or corporation Starbucks? So its number of employees?

    Jake, if you knew the coffee business, you wouldn't claim that Stumptown roasts only fair trade coffee. The concept of Fair Trade has several aspects that are deceptive, not forthright to say the least. It is also a claim usually made by paying a fee without careful documentation; like the companies, organizations that issue "green certifications".

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Albert Kaufman:

    I'm excited about this - I think it will make room for more local coffeeshops and perhaps tea/chai shops.

    Bob T:

    My problem with Starbucks was that their regular coffee was lousy. Hard to screw that up, but they do.

    But let me say this, Albert. A little-guy entrepreneur hoping to open up a coffee shop is more likely to be thwarted and foiled by many of the regulations and codes that exist under the guise of protecting the consumer, while a firm like Starbucks has an army of people to easily wade through that stuff and open yet another shop when they want to. There was a case of a man in Gresham about a decade ago who purchased one of those old pharmacy places and was working hard to turn it into a burger place, and he was getting real frustrated over the codes and regulations (not the good ones, but the stupid ones). I bet Starbucks supports these because they can outlast most people during the planning and building or renovation phase, and most people don't pay attention to this sort of thing. Most corporations support loads of business regulations for this reason, and have done so since the so-called Robber Baron days. In the end, they knew what they were doing but the little guy lost.

    No, I'm not arguing for no regulations. Just arguing for making you all aware of the other side of this coin. And I really hate so-called "anarchist" twits who think it's great to smash Starbucks windows while wearing Che shirts.

    Jake mention Stumptown - great place - great furniture.

    And he also made a good point about Starbucks making the idea of coffee shops more popular, thus triggering potential competition. But Starbucks can still outlast such potential rivals. Still, this reminds me of the ways a free enterprise system can be dynamic and go in directions people can't predict. One example can be found in the greater LA area where one Cambodian immigrant learned all about the donut business and then started his own shop and then taught and trained fellow Cambodian immigrants how to do this which all led to a large number of donut shops owned by Cambodian immigrants. I think that's great. No bureaucrat was needed to start a program for this, either.

    Bob Tiernan

  • (Show?)

    One of their problems was that they grew too fast - they bought out competitors and then turned their locations into Starbucks.

    Here in Gresham, there's half a dozen Starbucks stores within walking distance of my husband's work.

    I know some people don't like their coffee, but I've never had a problem with it. Guess that's because I don't drink it that often. I do know they have new machines coming to their stores that are supposed to make excellent cups of coffee.

    I go there mostly for their iced tea and Fraps. I used to get my tea at Coffee People until Starbucks bought them out.

    Here in Oregon there might be a lot of coffee shops to chose from, but back home it was pretty much just Starbucks. My friends and I used to go and hang out at the Starbucks at the Barnes and Noble stores in Houston cause they stayed open late. Before Starbucks, you got your coffee at Stop 'N Go, the local donut shop, etc.

    After moving to Oregon, I've had my choice of coffee shops to visit. One of my favorites here in Gresham is Cafe Delirium.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    My fiance (who lives in Canada in the province of Alberta) asked me if any Canada Starbucks stores were being axed. Apparently not. Up there, they fret over closures of Tim Horton's stores. In Red Deer, Alberta, there are only two Starbucks stores - both drive-throughs and surrounded by ten or more Tim Horton's stores.

    Has Tim Horton's thought of expanding to Portland? They have in Cincinnati...

  • (Show?)

    Jenni's point about Starbucks buying out competitors is why I will always be a little sore at them. In the Boston area they may have expanded the market, I don't know, but they bought out and lowered to quality at the sites of The Coffee Connection, which was the first place outside of Italian-American North Boston I knew where you could get espresso or good whole bean coffee (though when I was kid & the local A & P was a grocery, not a supermarket, there was a coffee grinder at the counter where my mother had beans ground whose smell I still remember -- in the days when coffee makers were percolators).

    Anyway, loss of The Coffee Connection was a loss of quality and of variety of ambience. Maybe they've contributed to wider awareness of "the third place" maybe not, I don't know, but if so, only at the cost of a trade-off of rendering it more standard and more sterile (and less comfortable). On the other hand, I guess there are a lot of people who value predictability and maybe that's how they extend it.

    Then again, as I think about the Dunkin' Donuts of my youth, and local bars and restaurants and even fast food places I'm wondering about the proposition altogether. What's that famous Hopper painting of the late night diner?

    Something of the same about buyouts applies to NW 23rd.

    On the other hand I suppose it may be better for owners to be bought out than driven out by competition, depending on how aggressive they are on price negotiations.

    They're opening a new one in a renovated and expanded Safeway at SE Woodstock & 46th / 47th, having recently opened one at SE 39th and . The latter had for years been the Kupie Cone (Kone?) bad architecture monument, then briefly an interesting effort at a small restaurant in the same building, which was torn down. Since Starbucks there went it, the Limbo produce and herb store has reduced their coffee & juice bar operation, though you can still get coffee, so I'm not sure that's attributable to Starbucks. Same with Safeway -- they closed a bunch of little shops that had been in what was originally designed-in retail space going back to when the building was Disco Mart. One of those was a little breakfast and coffee shop with frilly curtains that catered to neighborhood old folks mostly I think -- a different older kind of "third space." But I think it was Safeway that did that. I think the Starbucks will be inside the Safeway, and actually less of a "third space." It will be interesting to see how it affects the nearby neigbhorhood espresso place, with its non-uniform but big tables and variety of seating including armchairs.

    The closings probably say more about the state of the economy than about Starbucks per se.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "What's that famous Hopper painting of the late night diner?"

    Nighthawks.

    A great symbol of a classic and bygone era, along with Lucky Strikes and Jack Benny. Now it's Blue Tooths and laptops.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
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    The Hawthorne and Division closings are odd, because they are relatively close together. And both of them were really good neighborhood supporters. When Abernethy re-did its playground years ago, Starbucks employees from the Hawthorne store came to help work, and brought coffee with them. And just this last winter, the Division store hosted a fundraiser for Abernethy, as well. Good corporate citizens, who promote free trade coffee, relatively-good employee benefits, and high quality products are hard to come by.

    And BTW, for those on here who carry the "anti-corporate" attitude, I suspect that every small shop that opens is some form of corporate entity. Because they're not stupid, and if their business fails, they don't want their creditors to come after the owners. Fortunately, I'll be Starbucks is paying every creditor and not breaching any lease.

  • John Mulvey (unverified)
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    I agree with ws that the issue is the way big corporations do business these days. They've got analysts and number crunchers of every stripe for whom "100 stores" either way is just an abstraction, and they all need to move deck chairs around because that's their job.

    Whether Starbucks is a good company or a bad company, they are undoubtedly a large company, and shaving a tenth of a point from their costs is simply more central to their thinking than the lives they disrupt.

    gave us coffee for PTSA gatherings and other such perks

    In at least a dozen times that I've asked on behalf of various groups and events, Starbucks stores have always been very generous with coffee and food.

    The latter had for years been the Kupie Cone (Kone?) bad architecture monument

    That intersection may be one of the best examples of the loss of Old Portland and its replacement with yuppie fern-bar sameness. It will be a very sad day when this City eliminates every nonconforming use.

    Here's the Kupie Cone sign: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vintageroadside/2221632857/in/set-72157601400033916/

    Nighthawks.

    Wasn't that the one with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe?

    John

  • (Show?)

    I'm not a coffee drinker, so I haven't been a frequent habitué of any coffeeshops, either local or nationally-owned, but when the economy or location is bad enough that even someplace like Starbucks is closing shop it's not a good omen.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
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    I was really pissed when Starbucks bought Torrefazione Italia. I thought TI's coffee was the best in Portland and I'm a big fan of the Deruta (sp) crockery.

  • (Show?)

    "The firebombed one, at 20th and Division, formed a partnership with my son's school, Winterhaven, and gave us coffee for PTSA gatherings and other such perks. They were really great to us."

    We've had similar experiences in our neighborhood--they are flat out excellent corporate neighbors when it comes to that stuff. I recall in some situations they not only donate the coffee, they will pay your organization's volunteers for working to serve it! Whatever else they may do wrong, they are generous members of the community.

  • (Show?)

    Well...I just like their coffee. Sue me.

    Its not as good as Stumptown's--but since we don't have a Stumptown outlet near me, Starbucks makes for a fine second. And honestly, I really like going there. I know a lot of folks there when I go in-so its not just a place to get coffee, its a social time.

    The one they're closing at Evergreen Pkwy makes sense because there is another less than a block away and three more in a less than mile radius.

    But it sucks for the people that work there. And

  • GLV (unverified)
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    What jeff (#3) said. Seriously Albert, this has to be one of the most poorly-considered and selfish posts in Blue Oregon history. I expect better.

    In many small towns in America, Starbucks is the ONLY place to get a decent cup of coffee. Before Starbucks, there were none. What's the problem with that?

    I don't see Starbucks buying out or undercutting the little guy. (oh, except for those poor mom-and-pop venues like Seattle's Best, Coffee People, and Torrefazione). Give me a break. You can get a better, cheaper cup of coffee at dozens of local shops all around town. You really think there is a dearth of non-Starbucks here, and that somehow this opens up a vast new market niche they can fill?

    FYI, Stumptown is about to open a shop in New York City. I anxiously await your canned condemnation of this evil national corporation. Waiting...

    Oh look, tumbleweed!

  • (Show?)

    I hope we can stop jumping all over Albert here. As Jonathan points out, knee-jerk anti corporatism is not particularly unusual in the Blue Oregon community, nor in the progressive community at large.

    (I remember a posting a few weeks ago when I suggested that we should encourage Exxon/Mobil's research efforts into alternative energy sources because they have the money and the R&D, and someone compared this to encouraging the Mafia to commit more crimes.)

    I hope the lesson learned here is that not all corporations are evil, and even some ostensibly evil corporations can change their stripes (e.g. WalMart is one of the largest consumers and sellers of compact flourescent bulbs in the country).

    This lesson--that bigger is not always badder--could even inform some of the economic development policies of our fine city.

  • (Show?)

    I appreciate all the comments about my blog on this topic. I spoke to the barista at Mojo's this AM and she mentioned that Starbucks claiming to use fairtade coffee is a sham - something about the type of plants they are putting in on these plantations make the soil unusable after 5 years. She may elaborate.

    When I was Pres. of the Beaumont Wilshire N'hood Assoc. I asked the Starbucks numerous times for contributions and over the course of 2 years they never donated a thing - I got much better responses from Ristretto Roasters, Bagel Land and some of the other businesses there.

    Corporations suck money out of a community and send it to shareholders elsewhere whereas smaller stores keep more of the money flowing locally - so, that's a model we should try to pursue going forward. There's a great effort to encourage people to shop/purchase locally, tougher when we're talking about a product that comes from Africa or Brasil...

    I prefer not to go into a Starbucks because I find them antiseptic. A place like Mojo or Crema feels alive and connected to the earth/world - often the windows are open and the scenes are lively and fun - which mixes well with the drinking of coffee in my mind.

    and someday I hope to get to return to Vienna - a place with coffeehouses the likes of which I have never seen. The closest I have found outside of NYC is the side room of Muddy's on Mississippi.

    then there's Amsterdam...

    Myself, I'm trying to switch to green tea - for better health.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    If thats the case, Albert, maybe I can get my Canadian friends to convince Tim Horton's to open a couple of stores down here in Portland. Take my word for it - Timmy's coffee is much better, fresher, and you can order a large, not a 'grande'.

    Any one for a "double-double"?

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
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    Well, Albert, with the barista at Mojo's telling you that Starbucks' fair trade efforts are a sham, we've clearly received a cogent, knowledgable, unbiased final word on the issue. In reality, there is a decent amount of pressure on Starbucks to increase its purchase of fair trade coffee (from people complaining that Starbucks isn't doing enough), but it's a classic whiny view -- you're not doing good enough, as opposed to a realistic view -- Starbucks is doing far more that anyone else, but would ideally do more.

    With regard to Starbucks being "antiseptic," some call that "clean." One relevant example of the contrary approach is the (thankfully) closed Red and Black Cafe, which was just almost across the street from the Division Starbucks. It was nasty dirty, although from the outside that was hard to tell, because it was so poorly ventilated that there was almost always moisture on the inside of the windows.

  • Troy (unverified)
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    I think the main point Albert is addressing is that of large corporations (please note I used "large" for those of you sensitive to general corporate bashing) sucking money from the community and depositing it elsewhere. Local businesses circulate money wider and deeper into the local community. Their local net benefit is much greater.

  • (Show?)

    The Red and Black lives on, now at 400 SE 12th & Oak, having lost their lease on Division some while ago. I haven't seen these new digs, but had some good times in the Division place, much more interesting than any I've ever had at Starbucks.

    It's a worker-owned collective with some sort of affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the World I believe. It's not just a coffee house but also serves craft beers (and juices I think).

    Now that I've found their current address, I'll be going back -- thanks Jonathan!

  • (Show?)

    I have to say that the only time I was ever turned down by Starbucks for donations was when it was for a political event.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "Local businesses circulate money wider and deeper into the local community. Their local net benefit is much greater."

    You have some examples? Both Starbucks and the locals pay rent, buy coffee from overseas, hire locals.

  • John Mulvey (unverified)
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    I remember a posting a few weeks ago when I suggested that we should encourage Exxon/Mobil's research efforts into alternative energy

    Paul, that was months ago, during the disgraceful period in which Obama supporters at Blue Oregon relentlessly trashed anything and everything about Hillary Clinton. You certainly can't expect anything said then to still be operative now, can you?

    John

  • (Show?)

    I am not going to comment on the substance of Albert's post (as Starbucks is a client of our office), but I will say to Paul, that none of the responses here seem too over-the-top. Compared to the reaction to Albert's U.S. Societal Re-education campaign, the comments are pretty tame. That's the spirit of this blog -- people can post whatever they want (within limits) and commenters get to weigh in. That's not about "jumping all over Andrew" but discussing his ideas. Vive la difference, no?

  • (Show?)

    Charlie (if that's you), I just thought some of the language was getting a bit personal, given that anti-corporatism is a pretty common sentiment.

    Albert, you write Corporations suck money out of a community and send it to shareholders elsewhere whereas smaller stores keep more of the money flowing locally - so, that's a model we should try to pursue going forward.

    I agree in general, but wonder about the specifics, in this case and in others. Corporations often pay higher wages, have better benefit packages, and provide an avenue for upward mobility.

    I am just a professional skeptic and an empiricist--that's my training--so I'd want to see some data showing that local businesses are always better than corporate businesses, as well as how it applies in this case, before I'm convinced.

  • (Show?)

    Rather than point you to the multitude of studies on this topic: which is better for local economies: Red & Black or Starbucks... I'm going to wing it

    $1 at Starbucks - part of that goes to shareholders who live all over the place $1 at Red & Black - part of that goes to the owners who live in the community, where they will spend that money or save it

    what a beautiful day. greetings from Crema - we got a little CCR playing, just had Queen, the windows are open wide and it's a very sweet scene. this is a coffeeshop. this is what I want to support.

  • Ro (unverified)
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    @Leo great comment, thanks for the candor.

    I actually think great coffee shops could have emerged with a national chain leading the way, but they would all have to adhere to the rigorous quality standards in place at Starbucks... Easier said than done.

    @Albert - 100% of Starbucks employees have health insurance; what's the percentage for indie coffee shop workers?

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