Monday, April 27, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Some mornings are a little easier than others, even for "non-morning" people like myself. After several weeks of erratic work hours, I finally had a normal working day today (meaning: my first meeting was at 9AM and my last before 4:30PM, and all meetings were at my usual work location). I'm not sure why, but I felt kind of happy about this today. Instead of making coffee and breakfast at home, I decided to pop by the drive-thru at the St*rbucks in Beech Grove (near St. Francis Hospital) which is the only one "on the way" to work - although technically, it's out of the way.

So I'm driving merrily along, thinking about the day ahead, enjoying the feel of my three week-old car, and basking in the sunshine . . . I pull into the parking lot at St*rbucks. Something is amiss. It appears that someone left their car in the drive-thru and then walked away! OK. I started to pull into a parking lot, thinking the whole time: "Hmm, this place isn't as crowded as it usually is this time of morning." Suddenly, a very serious-looking man starts walking over toward my car. He's wearing a St*rbucks polo shirt. I push the button to let the car window down, and he says: "Ma'am, we're closed."

OK, I thought. And then it occurred to me. He doesn't just mean closed. He means Closed. Big C.  "Permanently?" I asked him. "Yes, ma'am," was his reply. 

Needless to say, I was very disappointed. OK, so St*rbucks coffee may not be "all that." It's definitely not Vienna coffee and it's not in the same league as Bjava or many other independent shops. Truthfully, if I had my own espresso machine, I could make better lattes. (I had one, but killed it.)

As I drove down Churchman Street toward Raymond and beyond to downtown, I felt a little angry. Why did they have to close THIS store? This is the fourth store (that I know of - there are probably others) in Indianapolis that has been closed in the past year or so. This sucks.

Just a few years ago, new St*rbucks stores were popping up faster than McDonald's.  True, this was before the current economic "situation", and there were always critics and people who didn't want to pay $4 for a latte. But people went anyway. Some people I know go twice a day! Certainly St*rbucks created a whole generation of coffee (and tea) drinkers. They also created a sense of community in some places. How many times have I been to a St*rbucks and seen people working, conducting business? Seen small groups of people gathered? Meetups, church groups, even Scouts and student groups? St*rbucks has always been the kind of place that was open to everyone. Where you could go and chill out for a while and just let the world wait for a few minutes. We need more places like this - not fewer!

So it freakin' kills me when I see a St*rbucks store close, or hear that one is in danger of being closed. Especially when I know that with each closing, people lose jobs, the community loses a meeting place, and once again, we drift back toward places with cheaper but inferior products.

But what gets me the most, is when it's done in the name of greed. Which was surely the case for the Beech Grove store. May it rest in peace.