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November 2, 2006

Branding: Is Starbucks Your “Third Place”?

StarbucksStarbucks CEO Howard Schultz has gone on record with the New York Times saying that he wants Starbucks to become a “third place” in people’s lives - a sort of link between home and work where you can read the paper, download some tunes, buy a book or two, and either prepare for the day or wind down from it.

Daniel Goldin looks into the “third place” and whether or not it holds water (or latte, as the case may be). Goldin points out that it will be a rather bland artistic hub - it just rejected the new Springsteen album, entitled Devils and Dust, because one song was too racy.

Others have tried to claim the “third place” title with less success, and I must say that if there really is room for a “third place” in our lives, Starbucks is it.

Because each Starbucks tries to reflect the neighborhood culture around it, the Coffee Klatch thinks entering into a new store for the first time “offers the hint of adventure”. Even The China Expat believes that the store has certainly become a “third place” in China thanks to the location of the stores, their accessibility, their service, design, good coffee and Wi-Fi. Starbucks’ coffee culture seems to fit in exactly with the way Chinese do business.

I have always been curious about the Starbucks name - the chain was christened after the first mate of Captain Ahab’s ship, the Pequod, after the founders flirted with calling the store “Starbo” or “Pequod.” My question is why is there no possessive?

Lands' EndWould it not seem logical to call the place “Starbuck’s” if it is named after a character named “Starbuck”? I am reminded of another product name, Lands’ End stores, which really should be “Land’s End” after the geographical place, but the owners simply made a mistake when printing the name and Lands’ End it has stayed. It wouldn't be the first time people at Starbucks misused the apostrophe, according to the Apostrophe abuse blog.

Is Starbucks YOUR “third place”?

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Posted by William Lozito at November 2, 2006 1:07 PM
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