Why not just open a new Starbucks in the restroom of one of the current Starbucks?

The Crimson reports Starbucks has filed paperwork to build a new outlet in the old Alpha-Omega jewelery store in Harvard Square, roughly 500 feet from two existing Starbucks.

Eerily prescient Onion story from 1998.



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Have you ever been in Harvard Square?

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I mean, the roads through there cut it up like some kind of shish kebob. I certainly don't take my life in my hands just to cross those intersections...and for what? Coffee? No thanks. I'll be glad there will be one on both sides of the street.

Just kidding, Starbucks is obnoxious.

Seriously, though, my guess is that they'll shut down one or the other or both of the further ones and keep the one with the corner store front that's right above the T station.

Not Necessarily...

The Church street branch serves a lot of morning traffic from the Church Street exit from the T; I wouldn't have ever gone out of my way into the center of the square back in my commuting-to-MtAuburn-Street days. 126 Mt. Auburn had a Au Bon Pan cart just to attract the "not walking to Holyoke Center" crowd (like me).

And, the Alpha-Omega contains the old Tasty site; I was always shocked that it wasn't some sort of coffee shop instead of a jeweler.

Great point. The 'two

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Great point. The 'two Starbucks within five hundred feet' is a bit of a canard. I'm not sure if they're counting the Coop Cafe, in the back of the second floor of the COOP bookstore, that serves Starbucks coffee; or fudging the distance, and stretching all the way to Broadway Market. Either way, neither of those locations serves the same population as the proposed store.

The question isn't one of sufficient demand. There's no question it's there. Take a look at the flagship ABP in the Holyoke Center, or the Dunkin Donuts inside the T station, or JP Licks, or Tealuxe on a weekday morning, or a half-dozen other vendors in the area. The question is whether putting in a massive Starbucks that's even closer to the T exit than any existing storefront (save the Dunk inside the station) will produce new revenues, or simply cannibalize demand for the existing businesses. My fear is not that the Church Street Starbucks will fold; it's that the ABP, with its sprawling outside tables that welcome a diverse crowd, will fold under the competition. Or, even worse, that some of the locally owned cafes won't survive. Starbucks has the deep pockets to sign a long-term lease and eat losses in early years, until the competition knuckles under. But no one is going to make the trip to Harvard Square for the Starbucks. People do come to see the chess guys at ABP, or to stop at JP Licks, or to sit outside at Crema. That's what makes me nervous about this.

Two Starbucks in Harvard Square

You've forgotten the Starbucks in The Garage on JFK Street. That's quite close to this location -- close enough that it would make sense for Starbucks to close it once this opens.

I can't see Starbucks putting Au Bon Pain out of business. ABP has lots of outdoor seating, while the new Starbucks will have little or none. Also, ABP serves a lot of food, which is not Starbucks' strong point.

Back in the '90s, Starbucks

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Back in the '90s, Starbucks did a good deal of market research that concluded a significant number of their potential customers wouldn't cross the street for a cup of coffee. This lead to the more amusing (?) aspects of their massive build-out.

...And then there's me

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Because I frequently pass right past a Starbucks then cross the street to get to Dunkins then cross back to get to work. I seriously dislike Starbucks and would rather go without if that was my only choice.

But I'm always throwing marketers assumptions off. :)


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For that. It's the Starbuckization of the Square!

...better that than

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...better that than Dunkin'ization.

Has anyone ever read Fast Food Nation

The two existing stores are most likely operated by different people. Starbucks the corporation owns nothing but the name and menu. If Starbucks is opening it's own corporate owned store, then they could be hoping to put both franchises in the square out of business.

Don't need Fast Food Nation to understand franchises

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Good point. The Starbucks corporation does not manage the stores. But it does exercise control over where private franchisees may open one.

A corporation would often not allow more than one franchise in such a small area. In the example here, the demand is great enough to allow it.

Starbucks does not franchise

From their own website: "Starbucks does not franchise operations and has no plans to franchise in the foreseeable future. "

They do have some licensing agreements for locations in Barnes & Noble, hotels, airports, colleges, and the like. They also franchise Seattle's Best Coffee locations, but that's an entirely different brand (and one not found in Harvard Square).

The licensing thing confuses

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The licensing thing confuses the hell out of people. I used to work at a Barnes and Noble and our cafe had Starbucks logos all over everything. But the cafe is NOT a Starbucks, we just licensed their logo and served their coffee. So Starbucks coupons and stuff wouldn't work there.


I was all dressed in black, she was all dressed up in black

... she was wearing eye liner ... I was wearing eye liner ...


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the Brattle will be replaced with an Olive Garden. Cardullo's will become a KFC and the Out of Town will soon be a Shake Shack.


I wouldn't count on that

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I could actually see myself stopping in one of those places once in a while. No, what Harvard Square needs are more banks and cell phone retailers!

Uhhh I think Pinkberry has dibs...

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According to The Harvard Crimson, Pinkberry will be opening on Mass. Ave. where Alpha Omega Jewelers used to be (in the heart of the square, across from the T station where Mass. Ave. and JFK Street meet).

As always...

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it's so nice to see Boston having a discussion New York was having 10 years ago. I'm surprised that the delayed Max Brenner opening didn't warrant a duck boat parade and that Five-Napkin Burger's arrival wasn't greeted with "Yankees Suck" chants. That Shake Shack, which has fewer outposts than Anna's Taqueria at this point, still sends a Bucknerian shiver of fear up the region's collective spine serves as a brilliant barometer of Boston provincialism. I'd say the needle is somewhere between "you can't get there from here" and "you're not a local, you're a transplant." Don't worry, Boston, a street lined with Starbucks couldn't deprive your city of its simple joys: A Dunkin Donuts on every corner that doesn't serve scary items like espresso, an overwhelming sense of self-righteousness and superiority even when you're wrong and a perpetual aversion to change.


So, you're from around here then?

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I don't think a local could top the level of "self-righteousness and superiority" in your post if they had just come from a 2004 World Series party where Kobe Bryant had settled a losing bet by kissing Paul Pierce's bare ass and they had the pictures to prove it.

It's probably hard to come here from somewhere that sold out its local commerce and restaurants to Wal-Mart and TGIFriday's a long time ago. But it's all good. We've seen your sort of jealousy before. Have a cheap lobster or two and shut the hell up or get the hell out...or both.

And leave the Sam Adams in your fridge on the way out, thanks.


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Which place are you berating, Washington State (which I'd assume the Chelan guy is from... or that it's someone who just likes Sleater-Kinney and pretending they're from the Northwest) or New York. If it's Washington, TGI Fridays doesn't stretch out that far. If it's New York, TGI Fridays started there and there's no Wal Mart in Manhattan (yet). Just trying to clarify.

P.S. Definitely leave the Sam. Your Brooklyn lager/Red Hook is swill.

Just so you know

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Dunkin Donuts does serve espresso.

Three of any chain within blocks of each other makes no sense.


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Dunkin' Donuts "espresso" comes from packets of "espresso drink" mix. There are no espresso machines in your local Dunks. I know, I'm not helping, but just sayin'...

This again...

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Not surprisingly, Universal Hub has itself all out of joint over coffee again. Some of the same people who lament the loss of Harvard Square's Tower Records (another chain) find no irony in railing against Starbucks. Meanwhile, Cardullo's has to turn the TV off just to get the locals who "love" it so much to spend some money in the store. Oh poor Boston... being dragged kicking and screaming into drinking Stumptown coffee, eating real Pinkberry products and turning abandoned park structures into places people will actually visit. You have no problem turning Quincy Market into a Simon mall while Philly's Reading Terminal and Seattle Pike Place are still overwhelmingly local, but cry and wail when a Harvard Square filled with chains gets a new Starbucks. Nice priorities, Beantown.

All the chains in Harvard

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All the chains in Harvard Square is a disaster that's acknowledged by everyone I know. The property owners are the ones who made that happen, for greedy or idiotic reasons. Everyone else thinks it's shameful, especially in front of all the visitors we get. Harvard is an international institution and does not want to be tacky or strip-mall/WalMart American.

Greedy = has more money than

Greedy = has more money than me.

"No, boss, I don't want a raise. I don't want to be greedy, so you keep the money and buy a new refrigerator for the lunch room."

Doesn't I-90 go all the way to the coast?

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Where things are simpler and people don't have to have more than one thought in their head at any one time?

Why do people assume that just because somebody posts something in an online forum they've dropped every other thing that might possibly concern them and plan to spend all their time on that one issue? Not liking the idea of Starbucks piled up on more Starbucks in Harvard Square does not mean the person expressing that thought can't think of starving children or whatever.

Oh, please

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"Out of joint" doesn't happen around here until around 4:23 PM.

Ya heard?