It's taken me awhile to get to it, but for some time now, the Starbucks emails have left me unsettled. Every email is trying to get me to visit more, to buy more. It's all about making a sale.
But that's not what Starbucks is - to me. Starbucks is a treat, a reward, a special occasion. Starbucks is the destination at the end of a walk with my daughter. Starbucks is a mid-point between working in the office and working from home.
It was a Friday tradition when I worked in Pasadena and a Sunday afternoon tradition way back when I lived in Sherman Oaks and was single (coffee, scone, Hollywood Report and Variety and my feet up on the edge of the fountain). The one in Monrovia that always had drawings from elementary students on the walls was where I met with several other men for a weekly Bible study years ago. When I worked in Burbank, we used to enjoy walking to the one in the Disney Channel building. In Tacoma, I had just discovered that Starbucks, a scone and a walk on the beach was a good way to center myself before heading into a frustrating job. Speaking of, Starbucks and I were born in the most awesome city of Seattle. I even own a few shares and somewhere I have a few of the special Shareholder only cards they used to issue each year (the app has made cards a relic). Our family still occasionally searches out the "Glenn" commercial on YouTube and sings-along.
I bristle when people call Starbucks a restaurant, especially a fast-food restaurant. It's a café. (If Mr. Schultz himself told me it was a restaurant, I'd politely disagree.)
Starbucks is special.
For instance, from this blog alone...
- I make all my co-workers go to Starbucks and imagine they work there
- Lori brings me lots of coffee and I must brag
- Daddy/Daughter Day Includes a Pilgrimage to 15th. Avenue Coffee and Tea
- I offer Mr. Schultz some unsolicited feedback about 15ACT
- I review 'Onward' and it is a top post on my blog for years
- My 5-year old's photo of 'Me an Daddy' has us at Starbucks
- Feeling homesick for L.A. I look up my old Sunday afternoon haunt
- My Last Day in L.A. includes Starbucks
Its emails did not feel special. It was all about buying stuff, earning more stars. It felt manipulative, generic and mass marketing. I think that really hit home when they emailed me to say that they wanted me to be one of the first to know that PSL was back. (It's been a long time since I've had PSL - it was either not memorable or I didn't care for it.) I figured there was no way that I was segmented into any sort of special list, that they probably just sent it to everyone. (Also, apparently I have some stars that are expiring, like 2.3. It seems like stars are really common now, and yet somehow I still have fractional stars. Too complicated.)
But I have a theory - I suspect that I will go to Starbucks a little more now, on my terms, because I want to. Not because I was told to.But I have a theory - I suspect that I will go to Starbucks a little more now, on my terms, because I want to. Not because I was told to. If I earn a bunch of stars and get something for free, that's another way I'll be delighted. If some of my stars expire like some cheap airline miles, I won't know about it and won't be sad that something is being taken away from me.
I am making Starbucks special again.