Tag Archives: LaBoulange

Open Letter to Starbucks

Dear Starbucks,

You must have the smallest cock in corporate history. It’s obvious you’re compensating for something. Not only do you have the nerve to call your small a “tall,” but I can’t drive a mile in any direction without passing a dozen of you on my way. There is nothing you can say to justify the fact that the first thing I see when I walk into Safeway is a Starbucks, and the first thing I see on my way out of the same Safeway, less than fifty feet away, is another fucking Starbucks.

But all that aside, I write to you today in regards to the closure of your recent acquisition, La Boulange. I worked for La Boulange before you bought them out in 2012, and again last fall, after the buyout. I was never a huge fan of La Boulange, to be honest, but I don’t support your choice to shut them down. It’s the principle of it. You saw an opportunity and took it. That’s just good business, you might say. You saw a profitable product, swooped it up, implemented La Boulange pastries in every Starbucks pastry case, and simultaneously shut your competition down.

You acquired La Boulange in search of “something special,” according to Brian Kelly, a Chicago retail consultant who told SFGate that:

“The problem with Starbucks is they weren’t generating enough revenue… They brought (La Boulange) in to add some brand power, and to suggest a more premium product…. Often in mergers and acquisitions, the larger company winds up negatively affecting the smaller company by squeezing out the very thing that made the smaller company desirable” (Lucchesi).

Now, the claim that you weren’t making enough money to begin with is bogus as far as I’m concerned. Nothing necessitated the acquisition. You just wanted it, and your rich daddy bought it for you. And the fact that you felt the need to “suggest a more premium product” in the first place tells me you’re well aware you’re serving total shit. Be real, Starbucks. You’re not selling quality. You’re selling consistency. People are loyal to your company because, despite the diabetes, they know that anywhere they go, they can get the same venti “nonfat” quad-shot, half-caf mocha with extra whip and chocolate drizzle on the top. Your success is founded on conformity, not quality.

But ultimately, the joke’s on you because the whole reason you conquered La Boulange was to offer a higher quality product, yet in doing so, that very quality you sought has suffered. As usual, you’ve taken something that’s supposed to be gourmet and mass-produced it, compromising its excellence and artistry. So now we’re left with a global infestation of Starbucks coffee shops, plaguing our planet with substandard pastries and espresso.

It’s corporate colonialism. It’s like a losing game of agar.io, and your circle is the last one standing, now that it’s swallowed all the competition. Ever since you took the throne, your sovereignty has marked the dawn of a Holocaust against the moms and pops, a genocide of independent coffee shops. The little guys are easy targets. We all know they don’t stand a chance, but all my worst fears are confirmed when you go dissolving entire chains in one fell swoop. Almighty Starbucks, I ask you: If corporations are people, does that make you a murderer?

Illustration by Dakota Snow
Illustration by Dakota Snow

The La Boulange that paid my bills (the one I worked at), the one on University in downtown Palo Alto, closed its doors for good last month on Thursday, September 3rd.

Adieu, LaBouGone without a trace. The famous ceramic bowls in which La Boulange served their lattes will be displayed in antique stores. Old macaron boxes will collect dust under the beds of grieving La Boulange customers. The friendships that formed between the staff and customers will fade to memories. Buildings will be vacated. Ex employees will be jobless, or worse yet, forced to work at a Starbucks.

I’ve always suspected that your expansion plan extends beyond the reaches of this earth, and ultimately, “Star-bucks” will eventually become intergalactic currency exchanged across the universe. The massacre of La Boulange cafes is just a preview for what’s to come, no doubt, but I’ll fight to the death to preserve the diversity and dignity of independent coffee shop culture. Years from now, in a coffee shop of my own, justice will be served.

Cheers,

Dakota Snow