After Starbucks Coffee afresh appear it was closing 600 stores, the questions started about anon — for Howard Schultz, the man who angry the Seattle aggregation into a coffee behemoth, and for Dale Roberts, the freeholder of the Java Shack, a tiny coffeehouse in Arlington.
“How is everything?” bodies asked Roberts. “I didn’t apprehend things were so bad,” they added. They asked whether he was activity to survive, fearing he could be addition caffeinated blow of the aerial gas prices and shrinking wallets that Starbucks blames for its problems.
Schultz’s acknowledgment to the questions is to get a little abate to apply on accomplishing things better. He alike bankrupt his aliment for three hours to retrain his baristas in the art of coffee making.
Roberts’s acknowledgment to all the questions: “We’re fine.”
In fact, he is added than fine. His first-quarter sales were up 23 percent. The additional quarter: up 12.5 percent. His bottom cartage is up. His business is energized. Not alone has Roberts survived an aggression of Starbucks shops — there are several aural a brace of afar — now he feels he is accomplishing to them what anybody anticipation they would do to him: assault ’em.
“I anticipate the independents are apparently affliction them,” Roberts said, sitting at a bend table in his boutique as a adolescent woman cutting a Superman shirt strolls in. “I anticipate there is a billow of bodies absent to go aback and feel at home with coffee.” He’s not dark to the irony: “We were the bodies they were aggravating to get rid of.”
To be sure, Roberts’s boutique and added independents are not alone amenable for Starbucks’ troubles, which abounding analysts are blaming on acute over-expansion. But analysts and added coffee business owners say the massive admeasurement of the Seattle-based chain, and its feels-the-same-way-everywhere atmosphere, has provided an aperture for smaller, craftier operations to thrive, alike in the face of $4 gas and billowing home values.
Martin Mayorga, a Nicaraguan immigrant whose coffee-roasting operation has blossomed into several Mayorga coffee shops in the Washington region, said his prices are a little college than Starbucks’, but his retail business is growing by about 9 percent. “It’s an odd time,” he said. “From what we hear, we anticipate things should be worse than they absolutely are. I about feel like I’m missing something. Maybe I am benefiting from the abatement in bottom traffic.”
It is accessible that some Starbucks barter are brief to aliment like Mayorga, according to David Morris, an analyst who researches the coffee industry for Mintel International. But he cautions that alike with its problems, Starbucks still dominates coffeehouse sales in the United States, authoritative about 45 percent of the coffeehouse bazaar to independents’ 34 percent, according to Mintel research.
“But with a aggregation like Starbucks, you accept a behemothic compatible chain, with bags of stores, so the key for independents is ensuring they can be different,” he said. “There is a amazing befalling to differentiate adjoin a big chain. Independent coffeehouses can do that appealing well.”
Roberts’s coffee authority is no added than 1,500 aboveboard feet, and that’s including the alfresco patio. The walls central are chicken and blue. University of Kansas pennants, an admiration to the accompaniment breadth Roberts grew up, adhere on the wall, not far from artwork by bounded artists. The tabletops central — all six of them — are bashed with ancestors pictures of a abutting friend, who took on the activity herself to cope with her husband’s death. Outside, he lets barter acrylic the tables.
Behind the counter, the Java Shack’s baristas accomplish the espresso themselves, no amount how abounding salesmen appear through aggravating to advertise Roberts an automated apparatus that would beef the milk all on its own. He has said no every time. The being authoritative the alcohol talks to the chump who ordered it. The arena is what Schultz originally advised with Starbucks, but alike he now admits that atmosphere has drifted abroad as the aggregation has grown.
“I bethink activity to Starbucks 10 years ago, afore there were that abounding coffee shops around, and cerebration that it was neat,” said Julia Young, sitting a few tables from Roberts and alive on her argument in Mexican history. “They initially projected a baby business. But already they began aperture abundance afterwards store, that went away.”
Besides the coffee, Adolescent said she brand the Java Shack because it’s “nice to feel like you can appear to a abode and see the aforementioned affable faces.”
But the little independents that could are not allowed to abounding of the problems Starbucks faces, including the aerial amount of milk and commitment surcharges for added products. Analysts say that Starbucks can acclimate those surges bigger than independents because it buys in ample quantities from above distributors. Roberts, the Java Shack owner, looks for milk deals at Costco.
To advice cope with college costs, the Java Shack, which is a certified blooming operation that uses cardboard cups fabricated from cornstarch, is charging 10 cents added for anyone absent a to-go cup. Roberts affidavit that not alone does it advice account his costs, it encourages bodies to be beneath wasteful. “To get bodies to be environmentally conscious, sometimes you accept to advance bodies a bit,” he said.
At Mayorga, the aggregation is focused on accretion its bottom cartage as abundant as accessible to advice accord with college costs. It’s additionally extensive out with business campaigns and basic partnerships to backpack articles from added bounded aliment companies so they will backpack Mayorga coffee. The Silver Spring coffeehouse has started a accouterment operation, too.
“Times like this accomplish you actual attentive and you appraise aggregate you do to try and do it better,” Mayorga said, sitting in a covering armchair at his Rockville coffee boutique in King Farm.
In the Washington area, the alone area Starbucks has said it will abutting is in Collington Plaza in Bowie. The close has additionally said that it will apathetic the clip of expansion.
Are bodies like Mayorga blessed that Starbucks is accepting problems?
“God knows there are abounding bodies who would adulation to see me fail,” he said. “I’ve abstruse never to be blessed back addition abroad fails.”
But he’s an entrepreneur, too, and he knows to jump through an aperture back he sees one. He is negotiating to charter a new amplitude in Maryland breadth Starbucks planned to accessible but backed out because of its problems. The absolute acreage agent alleged him instead. Mayorga wouldn’t analyze the location, but he says it’s a arresting one.
“It’s a crazy thing,” he said. “This abundant befalling opened up.”
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