Carrie from Sex and the City at her computerThis morning I needed to run a couple of errands and since there are a few articles that I’m working on, I thought I’d take the MacBook, go to a coffee shop and write. As I drove the back roads to Publix to pick up some dog food for Gracie, my mind began to wander about where I’d go for a cup of joe. I thought about what was around where I live and my internal dialog went something like this.

Me: Let’s think about this for a second.

Myself: There’s a Starbucks at Nipper’s Corner.

Me: Yeah, but it’s kind of small and crowded.

Myself: Well, then there’s the Starbucks at Hickory Hollow.

Me: Yeah, but I’d prefer something new.

Myself: Umm… There’s a new Starbucks coming up at Nolensville and Concord.

Me: That would be fun, but only because it’s new and different (its not open yet).

Myself: You want different? We could go to the Starbucks in the Target at I-24.

Me: Again with the Starbucks. I’d prefer better coffee than that.


I: Too bad Perk Central couldn’t keep their customers and had to close.

So the only option I really had before me was which Starbucks I wanted to go to. There are no mom and pop coffee shops anywhere near where I live in Brentwood/Antioch, which sucks. Is that to say that there are no independent coffee shops in Nashville? No, not at all! There’s Caffeine, Bongo Java, Frothy Monkey and Sam & Zoe’s, just to name a few. My problem is that they are all located in more central Nashville and not out here in the ‘burbs.

With no competition, this has left the market wide open for Starbucks to setup shop where ever they want. They’re the 800lb gorilla of retail coffee and can put up shops anywhere they please, but it’s been easy pickings here in Brentwod/Antioch. There’s a lot of development out here in our area and all the Starbucks locations I’ve mentioned have been around less than 3 years.

I was entertaining the idea of opening a coffee shop at Nolensville and Concord. Of course I have neither the experience, time, not to mention money, to be able to make this fantasy a reality, but I knew that it was a prime location. 3 weeks ago a sign popped up saying “Starbucks coming soon” and *poof* there went my fantasy. No way an independent coffee shop could hold their own against Starbucks. At least not here in Nashville.

So if you think about it, Starbucks has really become the new McDonalds. I know this analogy isn’t new or revolutionary, but think about it from a competitor’s standpoint. If you were a local small business coffee retailer and you wanted to move into an area where Starbucks is located, how could you compete?

If you made hamburgers and were going against McDonalds, then you could open a restaurant. Provide a higher quality burger, better dining experience, etc. You’re not competing with McDonalds at the fast food business — they are the experts in the fast food delivery systems management game — but you could compete from other perspectives. In the coffee game though, there doesn’t appear to be as many perspectives. Other than wi-fi, or expanding to a cafe business, Starbucks seems to have the market cornered. At least here on my corner that is.

So here I am sitting at the Hickory Hollow Starbucks sipping on an Starbucks Anniversary Blend french press and lamenting about the state of coffee in my neighboorhood. “Wah, I have nothing but Starbucks coffee shops around me” How bourgeois. Is it just me, or is this article sounding like a scene from “Sex and the City

“When is a coffee just a coffee? Or is it all just a lot of shuckin’ and java?”

Man, I’ve got to lay off the Tab Energy!