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Off Kilter | Starbucks: Who needs them, and other 'status symbols'

 

November 1, 2019



OK, I’m prepared to get hammered by you Starbucks devotees. It’s the price of being counter cyclical.

Why do I say “who needs them?” Here’s why:

I get the Seattle grunge movement. You only have to live in Seattle (for us, 13 years this month) during the winter to understand why younger folk might wish to “dress down.” If your clothing and shoes are going to become a soppy, sloppy mess no matter how carefully you dress up against the wet weather, then why not dress down?

I’m not positive, but it would not surprise me if the style trend of “torn jeans” (you know, the jeans with the holes in the knees – and the more ragged looking the better) was invented here in Seattle. Hey, why not pay an additional $50 a pair for jeans that look like Goodwill Industries would reject them if you tried to donate them? Hey, here’s an idea: If you have teenagers at home (pre-teens are even better), just give them a brand new pair of perfect jeans (the kind you can purchase at Wal-Mart for $25 a pair) and a week or so later, collect them and voila! You have the perfect “pre- washed, holy knees ruined jeans” which you can sell on CraigsList for $80 a pair. Or, buy the new “perfect” jeans and simply drag them behind your car for a few days, then leave them out in the backyard exposed to the weather for another day. Then they’ll be even more obnoxious than the new $80 pair of “pre-washed” ones sold in the high end boutiques at Alderwood Mall.

Now along with that, why Starbucks? Why is it necessary to spend $5 or more on a cup of coffee simply to “hang out” at a café? You can go into any 7-Eleven or equivalent convenience store and get a cup of regular coffee for about a buck. And this makes further negative sense if you’re getting a take out drink. With take out, you don’t get the pleasure of hanging out in the very nice surroundings of their retail outlets. And no one will know you overspent at the Starbucks unless you carry the now empty container into your of ce. If you want to carry your “snob appeal” throughout the day, simply re- ll the Starbucks container with the coffee from your of ce coffee machine.

Worse, yet, there is the newly opened “high end” retail place on Capi- tol Hill (soon to expand across the country): usatoday.com/storstar- bucks-reserve-roastery-and-tasting-room. Here, you can hang out for the entire day, buying breakfast, coffee, and lunch while pretending to work on your notebook computer. If this trend continues, next they’ll be offering small rental rooms inside the place in which you can take a nap, visit with your signi cant other, and otherwise waste a perfectly good day (well, not completely wasted!). Frankly, I simply don’t get Howard Schultz’s concept with this new high end retail place.

Other “status symbols” we don’t need:

1) Any clothing which has its brand name conspicuously, displayed on its breast. Why do you willingly pay an additional 25% to buy a clothing item simply so your friends (whom you don’t like anyway) will know you spent 25% more? Instead, simply donate the 25% to a clothe the homeless charity. What does wearing this brand prove? Nothing more than you have a need to be identifed as “belonging to a chosen group.” Hey, join Mother Teresa and rescue some poor souls in the far east. Then you can truly feel good about yourself.

2) Cars that cost more new than some lower end houses. OK, I get it. Some of us, myself included, actually enjoy the driving experience of a high-performance car. Although, truth be told, there are fewer and fewer places in the United States where you can truly enjoy that perfor- mance. Imagine this: you’ve just been pulled over for doing 100 mph in an “urban” environment. The police of cer can’t believe his good for- tune at your anti-social behavior. Now you get to pay four times. First, for the ticket. Probably a couple hundred dollars. Next you get to pay an additional few hundred dollars a year on your auto insurance policy for three additional years. Total cost of your anti-social behavior? Over $1,000. Note this recent article about Finland, where your ticket price is based upon your income. (forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/04/28/ man-gets-58000-speeding-ticket-for-going-14-mph-above-limit) See how “good” you’d feel about yourself if this was you!

3) Members only jackets. I only have to refer to the great Groucho Marx, who said throughout his career: “I’d never want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!”

 

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