It was 2006. Word spread around State College, Pa. — the home of Penn State — that a fourth Starbucks would soon open its doors. In such a small borough, four stores seemed a bit much. Thus, I quickly adorned my head with that journalism hat and attempted to find the truth.
But the Starbucks Company was reluctant to share any information. Can’t exactly say I was surprised by this. Nonetheless, it forced my semi-article and the hours of research I’d conducted to become something else — my first and only op-ed (opinion-editorial) piece.
At that point in my life, I was fairly anti-Starbucks. It felt mass produced, stoic, unwelcoming and overly important in people’s lives despite being a simple coffee chain. That was just it though, it was more than a beverage provider; it was a company attempting to market an “experience.” They didn’t care about tasty products so much as an overall commodity, and that was where I hinged my op-ed piece; an article that I’ve since been quite proud of.
However, I’ve also since become a bit of a hypocrite, having spent two days in the last two weeks lounging at a local Starbucks. I may not drink coffee — hot chocolate, please! — but the environment is quite conducive to my post-work, pre-class needs. When I’m searching for a long-term place to relax, do homework and maybe have a small snack, that ubiquitous location comes to mind. In just a few years I’ve transformed from a Starbucks-hater to one seeking its marketable “experience” over its products. I’ve become the exact person I practically castrated for adoring this brand despite its near-mediocrity.
It’s now 2010, a mere four years since I fervently wrote about Starbucks as an example of corporate takeover, pushing away the unique, hometown businesses I then adored. Today, rather than finding a mom and pop coffee shop for my three-hour break, I immediately look toward that worldwide company because it’s already known and already comfortable. In the end, I’m left with a poor taste in my mouth though, wishing I sought that smaller business who could better use my whole $3 instead of a brand that cares little about my ass firmly planted in their chair. The unfamiliar has left me disregarding who I once was, and it’s about damn time I remembered that girl and the reasons behind her anger-filled op-ed. After all, I could probably get a yummy hot chocolate just about anywhere.