It's Not About the Coffee

It's been many, many years since Starbucks arrived here in Indianapolis, but I remember the announcement well. The press coverage suggested this was yet another sign that we were a vibrant city playing in the big leagues (ironic now I know given the ubiquity of the chain).

You've no doubt heard the news that Starbucks is closing 600+ of its US retail outlets. What you may not have heard is that a number of "Save Our Starbucks" campaigns have been initiated at the grass-roots level

Can people really be so crazed about their daily caffeine fix you might say?

But the protests have little to do with the coffee and everything to do with identity and self-esteem. For many neighborhoods and communities the presence of a Starbucks outlet provided legitimacy, a seal of approval. Just as the store’s opening likely provided a positive boost to civic pride, its closing may have a negative impact on morale, self-perception, and future neighborhood development.

For every individual and in every community or organization, similar signs of legitimacy abound. As changes are implemented we must remember once again that legitimate business decision often have more profound implications for the psyche of those affected.