Starbucks, Squares, & Barnes & Noble: Threat To The Little Man?

Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), the well known gourmet coffee chain, has just signed a deal with Squares, a company that provides a mobile app for smartphones, which allows consumers to pay for their goods. This deal will make it much easier for consumers to rapidly pay for their purchases at Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), which seems to have a never ending line of eager coffee drinkers.

There are some drawbacks to the deal, at least for the consumers. We mentioned in a previous article, that the Squares app, may not be the most secure way in the world to handle a payment system. There are other issues to remember as well.

Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) is a giant in the coffee industry, with 19,763 stores in 59 countries, including 12,848 in the United States, 1,264 in Canada, 973 in Japan, 778 in Great Britain, 621 in China, 441 in South Korea, 350 in Mexico and 269 in Taiwan. This presence on a global scale poses serious threats to local shops and cafes, not only in the U.S., but also in other parts of the world.

Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) currently has stores inside 650 Barnes & Noble, Inc.(NYSE:BKS) bookstores locations across the U.S., and this provides them with a very reliable source of income. People are able to comfortably sit and read books they have purchased at Barnes & Noble, Inc.(NYSE:BKS), while enjoying a nice cup of great coffee. This comfortable atmosphere can be found in most Starbucks restaurants, and this is a major part of the company’s appeal.

How does this hurt the local shops? Well, a typical “mom n pop” coffee shop, or cafe, can not afford to make a deal with a company like Squares, or even have their own mobile app. With Starbucks constantly expanding, and offering these services to their customers, the local spots, which once hopped with activity, have become eerily quiet and empty. Gone are the days of “Uncle Joe” playing checkers on the front porch. Welcome to the world of streamlining, and moving customers through as rapidly as possible.

While I must admit, I do frequent Starbucks from time to time, and some days, even work all day (thanks to their free wifi), I miss the old days of my grandfather taking me to the friendly little cafe on the town square, where we would sit and “chew the fat” with the “old timers”, who spoke of the “good old days.” Now, I find myself thinking of the “good old days”, and wishing I could turn back time.

Progress has definitely taken its toll on small town businesses all over the world, and I must admit that I miss the personalized service, and the smile on the waitresses faces when I would place my cash tip on the table and sip that last drop of bitter black coffee from the bottom of the cup.

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