After years of bad press (global expansionism, burnt beans, the invention of the frappuccino) Starbucks may finally have found a way to endear itself to one vast, growing segment of the populace, and especially the populace here in Los Angeles. No, not reality television stars, but unemployed, laptop carrying, wannabe screenwriters and bloggers.
Howard Schultz, the CEO of the Seattle coffee giant, announced that starting July 1st all Starbucks shops would offer free internet access. No longer will you have to buy those annoying Starbucks cards with your non-fat venti whatever and that Willy Nelson CD you didn't really want. Starbucks is also partnering with Yahoo to launch something called the Starbucks Digital Network, in which Starbucks patrons will get free access to many paid sites, like The Wall Street Journal, iTunes and Zagat.
The New York Times surmises that Starbucks "may be catering to people who are out of work and need a place to perfect their résumés or do freelance jobs." Earlier this year, Starbucks announced that same-store sales had finally increased, after months of decline. Starbucks reportedly attributed this happy news "in part to its role as an office for the unemployed." In other words, if we all hang out at Starbucks, typing on our laptops and looking up those restaurants on Zagat that we can't afford to eat at any longer, we'll buy more lattes and blueberry streusel muffins. They may have a point.
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