Coffee megacorp Starbucks is de-branding several shops, experimenting with a logo-less look that mimics the feel of independent coffeehouses. If the stealth Starbucks succeed and expand beyond Seattle, Minnesota might prove fertile ground for faux-indie conversions: It’s the only state where Starbucks coffeeshops are outnumbered by others.
It’s also a state where Starbucks has suffered setbacks in labor disputes. Though a name change to something innocuous like “15th Avenue Coffee and Tea” won’t help the company escape barista rebellions, it could help Starbucks make inroads in a Minnesota coffee scene heavy with indies and home-grown chains like Dunn Bros. and Caribou.
Starbucks is suffering a slide in business, last week reporting a 5 percent decline in the second quarter on top of bigger drops the two previous quarters, a slump that caused the company to announce the shuttering of 600 stores this year.
Starbucks’ malaise got mocked by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann last fall — “What’s next, Starbucks too big to fail?” she asked then — but nationwide closings have hurt even in sparsely Starbucked Minnesota, including four in Bachmann’s district.
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