retail news in context, analysis with attitude

This week, six Starbucks locations in Los Angeles will close because of concerns about security and employee safety.  The New Yorker has a piece about it, noting the incidents that presumably have prompted the company's decision, but also noting the hole it will leave in the lives of some of their customers.

Here's an excerpt, quoting Ray Indolos, who spends several days each week sitting and drawing in various Starbucks around Los Angeles.

"'I’m super bummed out. Some of my favorite Starbucks are the ones closing.' At the location in the Little Tokyo section of downtown, Indolos sat at a table with two fountain pens, ink brushes, and a sketch pad spread out in front of him. 'I do my art work. I thrive on the whole vibe here, the energy of people,' he said.

"He looked around the shop. 'My first assessment is: Is this guy gonna stab me? And, if not, more power to him. It only takes one glance.'  He gestured toward a man dancing alone. 'God bless him, whatever he’s going through,' he said. 'He doesn’t bother me.'

"Indolos started hanging out at Starbucks twenty-two years ago. 'I’m from Hollywood,' he said. 'I hitched my horse here.'  His regular order is an iced Americano with chocolate foam. He used to work in the animation industry, and now works in the office of a mental-health facility. He went on, 'I mean, it’s not like a hotbed for the Mafia or anything like that. It’s not so much crime as disturbance.'

"'Starbucks is a window into America,' Howard Schultz, the Starbucks C.E.O., said last month, in remarks to his staff. 'We are facing things which the stores were not built for.' At the branch on Hollywood and Western, two monitors showed customers live video of themselves: a woman in leopard-print leggings ordering at the register, another woman going through the garbage and fishing out a half-smoked cigarette. At a Little Tokyo location, an employee was jabbed by a used hypodermic needle while emptying the trash."

You can read the piece here.