A “No Loitering” sign at Starbucks?
Oh, the irony! What are all those comfy couches for anyway, if not an enticement to stay a while?
Although it was amusing, the sign was a bit of a buzz kill. It seemed to water down the chain’s carefully cultivated homey and inviting image. Not that anyone paid attention to it. (Except Yours Truly: I was loitering, waiting for a ride after dropping off my car for service.)
There’s a fine line between lounging and loitering. Obviously you can cross it by not patronizing the place with a purchase. But once you’ve bought your beverage, how else can you cross the line? By sleeping in a sofa chair? Not showering for a week?
Snoozing at Starbucks
Here I was, stopping in for another caffeine fix at 10:30 a.m., long after the morning rush hour. Nevertheless, the place was packed.
This location in South Orange County didn’t seem to have a problem with vagrants, even with the job market in the dumper. Aside from a few reading the newspaper or a book, most looked like they were working. Many who are in transition or freelancing often use Starbucks as satellite offices or meeting places. I counted no less than five laptops and two iPads at this location.
Baristas certainly don’t want anyone hanging around who’s just there to panhandle instead of buying a chocolate-mocha-frappa-something-or-other to while away the hours. But even if you’re a regular, Starbucks still thinks you’re not drinking nearly enough.
The home-office away from home.
The concept of providing a convenient meeting place for business has been helping Starbucks increase sales in a down economy. Now the coffee powerhouse has launched two new ad campaigns.
And to further encourage your habit, the chain is among the early adopters using FourSquare to offer incentives.
But instead of discouraging loitering on the patio, maybe they need to put up more Help Wanted/Apply Within signs.
“How Starbucks Saved My Life”
Did you hear about the former NY ad exec who was down on his luck when he got hired at Starbucks?
Michael Gates Gill was making six figures as a creative director at J. Walter Thompson when he was abruptly fired after 26 years. According to a CNN story, “That was just the start of a terrible reversal of fortune. In a few short years, Gill, the Yale-educated son of the famed New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, closed the consulting business he started after he was laid off, got divorced and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He had hit both the rock and the bottom and was continuing to fall.”
One day Gill just happened to show up at Starbucks on a job fair day. He got offered a job there, then kept a journal about the experience. Now his riches-to-rags story is a NY Times bestseller: “How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else.” And soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks.
Here’s Gill talking about his experience:
What about you? Do you use Starbucks as a satellite office/meeting place for work? Ever been accused of loitering there? Ever fallen asleezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Whoops! Sorry… dozed off at the keyboard again.