To Starbucks, We Are All Hyper-Caffeinated Lemmings

Ever wonder why Starbucks opens so many locations so near one another? Because the tactic works, apparently. People, simply put, will not wait in long lines for their caffeine fixes.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday noted Starbucks’ success in West Coast cities like Vancouver and San Francisco:

No matter how badly people wanted a latte, if the line looked too long, they’d keep walking.

Opening another store nearby was the retail equivalent of basketball’s boxing out, stationing yourself under the basket to get the rebound so the other team doesn’t. Starbucks first saw this phenomenon in Vancouver in the early 1990s, when it opened a second store kitty-corner to a small store on a busy corner. To everyone’s surprise, people came to the corners from different directions, so both stores did well. The logic was so simple that it almost sounded like a corporate version of that old chicken joke:

“Why did Starbucks cross the street?”

“To get to the customers on the other side.”

- Tom Acitelli