Friday, December 28, 2007

"we should all buy and read" starbucked

OK, so I've taken P. J. O'Rourke's quote out of context. Nonetheless, it's indeed in his recent New York Times book review, Venti Capitalists. His critique of Starbucked takes a few unorthodox paternalistic turns, but you can't dispute his apparent fondness for the author, Taylor Clark.

Instead of giving an unabashedly positive review (I couldn't help myself) he starts out chiding Clark for some rather random things:

Clark makes much of Starbucks’s discovery that it could put one store close to another and both could thrive. But you can line a street with fire hydrants and dogs will use them all; that’s not necessarily a recipe for wealth, especially if you try to charge the dogs.
Should his analogy lead us to believe that going to Starbucks is like pissing in public? Maybe he's not far off. Nonetheless, the dogs keep paying -- a lot.

Now, Mr. O'Rourke may trivialize the success Starbucks has had with cannibalization, but as far as I know, it was a rather novel (and fruitful) strategy. The company may not have been the first to actively cannibalize its own stores, but it certainly did so with unprecedented success.

Another fun-fact from Clark's book was recounted in his recent Slate article "Don't Fear Starbucks: Why the franchise actually helps mom and pop coffeehouses." And it even made it onto the front page of reddit. Looks like you're about to get the reddit bump, Mr. Clark.