« Starbucks aims to start selling books in its US stores by Christmas | Main | Starbucks chairman is surprised how the company has become part of popular culture »

May 16, 2006


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Why does Detroit have only five Starbucks stores?:

» Motown Is No Town For Starbucks from Advice Goddess Blog
pointless and expensive bridge to nowhere enroute to Detroit Metro Airport [Read More]


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I am from Seattle and went there for the Super Bowl! I couldn't find one forever. Finally had to go in and ask someone "The most Seattle question" I could. Where's a Starbucks.

Finally found one tucked up across from the skybridge to the GM building. Only saw 1 other SBUX in all of downtown. They should have at least imported a few for the SuperBowl

barista c

Every single Starbucks manager is going to be in Detroit in a couple of weeks for a meeting, so I don't think they are ignoring that city. Some markets just take longer to boom than others.


Barista C -- Detroit residents want to drink Starbucks coffee; they don't care that you happen to be meeting in their city.


the fact that detroit is poorer than other areas is probably not the reason..

look at the bronx.
and harlem.

these are not rich areas, and have starbucks' a plenty...


although i am heartened to hear of people complaining about not enough starbucks'!


just wait.
world domination will reach detroit eventually!


Key graf: "Detroit's economic troubles have long made investing in Motown seem risky to retailers and other merchants. The city has few major supermarkets, movie theaters or upscale chain restaurants."

So Starbucks is not alone in not wanting to be in Detroit. San Jose, in comparison, is teeming with just about every national retailer you could imagine, including Tiffany, Gucci, Brooks Brothers, etc.

Hmmm, I wonder why. Perhaps because Detroit consistently ranks among the five most dangerous cities in the country. Perhaps one of the highest property tax rates in the country, a local income tax and draconian gross receipts and benefits taxes on employers don't help.

This drives out homeowners and affluent professionals. Detroit may have 900,000 people, but how many care to spend $3 or $4 every morning for fru-fur coffee?

Personally, I think it's kind of cool that there's a town that hasn't been Starbucksized.

Detroit can be proud to be a blue collar town that caters to the disenfranchised and adopts very liberal social policies. It can be proud it is not filled with Latte-sipping yuppies in black turtlenecks tapping on their overpriced Apple laptops and patting themselves on the back for buying "fair trade" beans as they glow in their privileged sense of entitlement. It can be proud it is a town that actually produces things, that sweats and lifts and ends its days with beer and starts them with black sludge in a thermos.

OR Detroit can try and turn itself into a StarbucksTown, a contemporary "creative class" city filled with people who make their living making tv shows about making tv shows, or films about the film business, or podcasts about podcasting. Graphics designers and young executives of outsourced virtual corporations of tomorrow and lawyers, scads and scads of laywers. It can cut its taxes and build malls over the factories and condos on the docks.

Personally, it boggles my mind why Detroit would want to be anything other than $%#!$& Detroit. Best possible move would be to round up the five Starbucks and ship them out of town.


Montreal, a city with a population of 1.8 million people in 2001 has only 14 starbucks. (If you include surrounding towns such as Dorval, Pointe Claire and Laval this increases to 19). Three years ago, it had only 5. This is not a city of poor people. There is a large population of wealthy to very very wealthy people, most of whom adore coffee, yet few Starbucks. Detroit is not alone.


I live in Detroit's northern suburbs and, even out here, am jealous of those who complain--complain!--that there's a Starbucks on every corner in their hometown. I know there are a lot (probably too many) in Ann Arbor, but they're few and far between out here, and, paradoxically, we're the area experiencing the biggest population boom at the moment. There's a lot of untapped potential for Starbucks here; let's hope they see that.


Romatic posturing aside, people really need to consider what it means when, every year in Detroit, 1 in 50 people will be murdered, raped, robbed or assaulted, according to 2003 FBI stats.

One. In. Fifty.


One in 2,300 will be taken out and shot every year, based on the 04 homicide rate.

Think about what that indicates. It indicates violence and lawlessness have become a norm in Detroit.

So, you wanna open a coffeeshop and sit behind a box filled with money all day? Have fun! Don't forget the Kevlar vest!

Or maybe you'll try and hire someone else to collect the money for you, and cross your finger they are not one of the many thieves lurking around town?

High-crime cities like Detroit suffer demonstrably from much higher "shrinkage" rates at retail -- thefts by employees. Even if you hire good apples (and I know there are many more good people in Detroit than bad), you are going to be paying through the teeth for insurance. And I'm not talking about health insurance, I mean insurance against crime and violence and destruction of property.

All this so you can then be taxed out the wazoo by city and state government and take up the philanthropy slack from all the other businesses that left town.

Any politician or other blower of hot air that wants to criticize starbucks for not opening more shops in Detroit needs to walk himself down to the bank, put his house up for mortgage use his own money to start a coffee shop -- sign lease, pay broker, prepay rent, renovate walls/floors/fixtures/pipes/kitchen, buy furniture, hire employees, pay salary, pay benefits, buy insurance (worker's comp, health, property, disaster). At that point, said prognosticator will be fully qualified to complain to Howard Schultz about the dearth of Starbucks (but, gee, something tells me he won't).


Banana Coconut Cream whatever frap ??

Why doesn't Starbucks just BE Dairy-Queen instead of pretending ?

Ottawa Barista

With regards to the comment about the lack of SBUX in Montréal there's actually a reason for that... it's that none of those stores are actually corporate owned (at least AFAIK). They're all Licensed Concepts of one sort or another because of some of the legalities/technicalities with regards to a non-quebec company owning locations... or something like that.

It is odd though that there are so few locations in Detroit, although some of the points make some sense...

Just to give people an idea Ottawa (my area) has a population of just about 900,000 when you include surrounding areas and only in the next few weeks will our 19th (or is it 20th) store be opening.


True, the Montreal Starbucks are "different" they are officially called "CVI: Cafe Starbucks Coffee" It is because the stores have a sub-parent company running it, (CVI) which also runs, I believe, Boston Pizza, or Pizza Hut. Still, you would think that once they had the system set up, they would have started to fluorish. The Starbucks' are sooo busy here. (I'm originally from Calgary- Population 1.15 million in 2005- has 64 starbucks, and while some downtown ones are very busy, some are ridculously empty)
The montreal Airport doesn't even have a starbucks... not a single one!


Barista C -
Not even close to all the managers will be in Detroit. All the conferences will be held regionally, so I'll be in Brooklyn with the rest of metro NY.

Barockstar -
The Bronx had 2 stores, but one had to close because of the incredibly high crime rate in the area. (Doesn't do much for sales when the customers get robbed on the way out). Harlem, I think has 3. Do some research.

Boston Starbucks Rebel

There are not 63 Starbucks within the city limits of Boston. There are only about 24 Starbucks that can be properly counted of actually being in Boston. The other 40 are actually in the suburbs like Cambridge and Newton. Although it is interesting to comment that Newton, which has 10% less people have just as many Starbucks as Detroit. I think it is important that Starbucks try to open some more in Detroit, maybe jumpstart the economy again.

James the Barista

Supply and Demand. We are opening 5 stores a day, so just wait on it. You might see more popping up. Or write to SC...if 10 of you wrote there will be ears turning.


I live in Sunnyvale CA, there are 22 Starbucks within a 5 mile radius of my house.

barista c

Sbuxmanager --

Last year didn't everyone go to Seattle for one big meeting? I guess I assumed it would be the same this year. My mistake.


From Birmingham, with 8 or 9 starbucks and a very low population is about the only place in alabama that is not redneck enough to buy a 3 dollar mocha, though there is a HUGE wealthy population


Barista C, the leadership conferences had previously been in Seattle only, but they're doing them in different regions this year.


I live right outside of Detroit. The fact of the matter is: we like our small coffee shops and entertainment venues. Starbucks hasnt drained into our communities as quickly as it has other places because we already have lots of coffee and tea shops. Except, they're privately owned by families and what not.

By the way, Starbucks, now incorporated with Target and Meijer's have littered into even our small towns. It's overwhelmingly ridiculous.


John Molina

I would assume much of the midwest and even Canada has a greater range of Starbucks competitors. Caribou Coffee is prominent from what I understand.

Plus if Detroit is a low-income city, it would be quite the bitch to open lots of Starbucks and have unhappy employees who don't get enough tips and want to form up some Detroit unions. It's probably a smart decision by corporate.

Detroit Barista

There are a couple of reasons why Sbux hasn't proliferated in Detroit yet, I think, and the crime in the city probably has very little to do with it. FBI stats are great and all, but they don't give you a lot of insight into how crime is distributed across the city. All major cities have shady areas; we obviously are no different. However, the places where it makes business sense to build--namely, downtown, midtown/campus area and New Center--aren't that bad. But I've only lived here for four years, so take that for what it's worth. Anywho, I digress...
1. Detroit=expensive. Our city council sucks, big time. We're in danger of going into receivership because of how poorly managed the city is. One of the many brilliant ideas that have been implemented to alleviate our money problems has been to tax the hell out of everyone. You live here? Ridiculous income tax. You work here? Ditto. You park illegally here? Here's a ticket for ten times as much as the upper-middle class suburbs will give you. You have a business here? I can only imagine.
2. Detroit doesn't really have the coffee culture that translates into profit for Starbucks. From what I've gathered by talking to baristas in other areas, most stores in the city and the surrounding area aren't that busy and simply lack the customer base that other places have. This is probably due in part to the socioeconomic status of people in Detroit. I mean, we're poor. It's no secret. Just because I'm fiscally irresponsible enough to spend $4.40 for my cracktastic latte doesn't mean they are.
3. The best places to have Starbucks in the city are in the business district (where 3 of the 5 locations are) and on/near the campus of my university (where one is). The fifth is an Urban Coffee Opportunity (www.johnsondevelopmentcorp.com/starbucks/insex.html, if you don't know what those are). I think that the fact that Sbux has UCOs to begin with shows a willingness to branch out into areas that they wouldn't normally build, which is probably more than other companies can say.
4. We don't have a lot of competition in Detroit. Because of the other reasons why people don't want to operate there, there's less...everything. There are far fewer fast food restaurants than in the suburbs, and there are no Dunkin' Donuts, Tim Horton's, Caribou, etc. in the downtown/midtown area.

Besides, as others have pointed out, it's not like Sbux is done building stores yet. I know of several in the metro area that are in the process of being built, and the Sbux presence in Detroit is still relatively young.

Naturally, these opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Sbux, blahblahblah.



When I first saw Starbucks open in Ann Arbor (Arborland) I thought, no WAY will they ever make it in Ann Arbor, these people like their indy shops. Turned out I was wrong. Two more shops downtown and I hear Caribou made it's way in as well.


And Caribou on State made its way out of Ann Arbor when its lease came up several years ago, only to be replaced by yet another T-shirt shop. My husband and I were bummed--it was where we'd had drinks after our first date.

There are even fewer Caribou in metro Detroit than there are Starbucks. I have to drive at least three times further to find a Caribou. And this place (again, northern suburbs) isn't exactly crawling with small independent cafes, either; in fact, two of the ones we had patronized the most (one in Shelby, one in Gross Pointe Village, I think) are now closed.


the tax thing i think is a problem (to lesser degree) here in Philadelphia, where we have the notorious 4% wage tax (my paycheck took a HUGE dip when i moved here from Houston, which has NO local or state income taxes). there definitely aren't as many starbucks as one might think in the city, but they are TONS in the suburbs. i mean, consider University City, a district in West Philadelphia that includes Penn and Drexel University. there is ONE starbucks for all that area, as a result, it's a $60K a week store. my ASM and i were scratching our heads to that one a couple days ago. likewise, there is only one in North Philly and one in South Philly. besides one in Chestnut Hill in the Northwest, there are about ten in the Center City area. that's pretty freaking weak for the 5th largest city in the country. i think part of the reason has to do with the wage tax (which is also part of the reason Philly continues to lose population to the burbs).


Wasn't there an article linked to from this site a few years ago that talked about the way Starbucks analyzes an area before putting in a store? I recall the article saying that Starbucks is such a good predictor of the future health/wealth of a neighborhood that banks are more likely to give small-business start-up loans to businesses near a new Starbucks. Perhaps the problem with Detroit is that Starbucks doesn't see a future there. Baltimore has the same problem. I don't believe there is a single stand-alone Starbucks in Baltimore, although there are a few in supermarkets, etc.

Baltimore Babe

Ummmm - there are stand-alone Starbucks in Baltimore, plus Seattle's Best and Caribou Coffee, plus an ever-growing assortment of indie coffee shops.

Go to many of them on a regular basis.

Went to Detroit for the All-Star Game and can honestly state that there is nothing there. At all. The Hard Rock was nice, but other than that, downtown Detroit was a mass of empty buildings and picketing workers outside of City Hall. Shops in the Renn Center were vacant and many, many storefronts were vacant.

The area arund the baseball stadium was awful, surrounded by vacant high-rise buildings and nothing much else. I don't doubt for a second that there are almost no Starbucks there.


Detroit Barista, awesome post!

And thanks for the Urban Coffee Opportunity link, but I checked and it does not end with "insex.html," although I got a laugh out of the typo. This will work:


And Magic Johnson is simply an awesome person.

Hopkins Bella

Glad to see a Baltimore poster.

Regarding Baltimore and Starbucks, though, it's my understanding that had the mayor not personally met with the corporate head a few years ago, Starbucks would not have any stand-alone stores here. Per the story I was told, Starbucks had virtually no plan on moving into the Baltimore city area at the point in time, nor any time in the foreseeable future.

I honestly can tell you, too, that there are several of us who have made requests for potential Starbucks future locations in the city (Johns Hopkins hospital, for example, PLEASE) but no one has responded. Einstein Bagels won't be so bad, though, as they're moving into the hospital soon......but we'd love the coffee....


My aplogies to Baltimore Babe and the city of Baltimore. Per the Baltimore Business Journal, Sept. 30, 2005, "Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee Co. opened its first standalone outlet in downtown Baltimore on Friday."


I believe Hopkins Bella is correct that Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley made a personal plea to Starbucks to open a store. I haven't been able to find any articles on that, although I did find this article in the Business Journal that quotes the Caribou VPO of real estate saying, re: Baltimore, "Now that other retail is coming back to the city, those areas are becoming more attractive to us"

I think this points to the idea that Caribou, like Starbucks, is a business, and they put shops where they think people will buy coffee.
The relevant point re: Detroit isn't that the people who live there are poor. It's that a business analysis of the area showed that there wasn't much of a market for expensive coffee. This may sound like the same thing, but it isn't. Poor people may choose to spend what limited income they have on luxury items, such as expensive coffee. If there was a neighborhood of low-income people who habitually bought expensive Starbucks drinks at groceries, I suspect Starbucks would consider putting a store in that neighborhood.

Hopkins Bella


I think you're correct overall on your analysis of Detroit's market. Funny thing that is, though as there are markets where Starbucks exists (a few out in the boonies in the midwest and west--I grew up there--don't flame me for being an east coast elitist) that I don't think ever would've *had* a market for expensive coffee had Starbucks not come to town.

Boston Starbucks Rebel

Starbucks in Philadelphia is a serious issue. But also, if you think about possible places of putting new Starbucks, it is not that easy. First, location wise, in South Philly, it might be easier but since alot of people have cars there aren't alot of public places, unless you consider the Italian Market down there which would be an interesting idea. Also, in North Philly, again an issue of finding the right spot to place one, although I think maybe somewhere in Northern Liberties would be an ideal spot. West Philly itself is very crazy and possibly the only place to try to place one would be no where! Although the area on South St. near Graduate Hospital is somewhat near West Philly, would be a good place for a Starbucks. I think Center City is relatively a saturated area for Starbucks unless you place another one somewhere near Chinatown. Also, Starbucks in Philadelphia seriously needs to work on creating the "Starbucks Experience" which I must say is currently lacking 4-5 stars, somewhere near a 3.


awww! Boston SBux Rebel, come to 20th and Callowhill and i will personally give you 5 star service. :)

sorry you had such a shitty experience, tho.

i wasn't really thinking West Philly, i was thinking more University City, maybe Balitmore Ave? it kind of sucks that there's ONE sbux for two universities and a major hospital. those poor kids at 34th and Walnut.


Short Pump, Virginia.
Population from the 2000 Census: 182.
Number of Starbucks locations: 3 (at least by my count, including one in a barnes and noble).

That's one starbucks for every 60 people.


Of TOPIC! but important!
okay i do have to say that Sturbucks is starting to add some inches to everyones waistline.. but they are not out there pushing their product like tobacco, mickey D's and all the other fat food chains. Starbucks does offer stuff that is healthy, but people have to make that choice on their own.

I don't they are avoiding any market. it might be hard to get into that market. local companies might not want it and protest against it. it happens! i am sure that they will get in there eventually. i wouldn't pass it off on the whole company. i am a partner and i know that profitablity is the only way that the company will continue to grow. any market is a good market and having our coffee available everywhere makes it so our regular customers can go ANYWHERE ang get their favorite drink! and have a place that they feel is like HOME!

Boston Starbucks Rebel

I just checked Short Pump, VA has a population of 162 which means a huge amount of Starbucks per capita. Also the population is mostly upper-class, white, and married couples from the Census data. The mean income is 60,000 which is well within the Starbucks demographic formula.

Boston Starbucks Rebel

Hi! I actually never made it to 20th and Callowhill because its kind of far from Center City. The nicest Starbucks I have been to in Philly though is probably 4th and South and 16th and Market. Although I used to go down to Millenium Coffee which is like near Walnut St. I believe. Also the Starbucks on 3rd St. across from the Real World house was pretty nice. I used to sit in there for 6 hour shifts just waiting for an MJ :) to come out.

Just think how many Strawberries and Creme and XXXXXXXXXXCR Caramel Frapuccinos could be sold.

Detroit has been overtaken by the Japanese and they have switched the city to tea! ;->

zev goldman

The "fair trade" beans concept means little when so much Starbuck merchandise is produced by the world's greatest human rights violator, Communist China."


So probably does the computer you are posting this message with and all your clothes...your point?


Just what is the exact starbucks demographic,

IE, have they ever opened a store in primarily poor black neighborhood to test it?

John Molina

Zev, isn't Starbucks a coffee shop? People go much more for the drinks and beans, not the plastic.

Besides, you haven't backed yourself up with any examples of companies that DON'T have their retail merchandise made in China (or any other impoverished or human-rights-lacking countries).

It's just rude to single out a corporation for something that everyone does.

Boston Starbucks Rebel

Yes Starbucks have UCO stores in primarily minority areas such as Howard University and Harlem. These stores offer the hope of economic vitality in those areas. As for the Starbucks demographic, it mostly focuses on places with a household median income of around 60,000 per year and mostly young to middle age people. Ironically, Starbucks is one of the few companies to actually "downgrade" their target demographic and has become more diluted over the last few years as Starbucks has become more accesible. Obviously in order for Starbucks to expand it cannot simply remain in Newton and Greenwich the entire time

Marco Massarotto

Well' you complain you only have five in Detroit, but in Milan we have zero...Any idea why?


because in milan you have absolutely fantastic coffee shops.


20 people must have died in Short Pump since I last checked. Maybe they were crushed by their enormous piles of money.

All joking aside, Short Pump is actually just outside of Richmond city limits so it draws a lot of customers from there. It's mainly a big commercial shopping center with a few apartments and condos. Still it looks like a very nice place to live. The median income is pretty high so it's definately a market for starbucks.


I'm glad to see more and more Starbucks stores showing up here in Oklahoma. I hear there is another one planned for Lawton in the next year. This is great news!

omg, May 18, 2006 10:40:58 PM, you're my hero.

Amy Alkon

Starbucks in Detroit are mostly in the nice, safe suburbs -- in places like Birmingham and Grosse Pointe. Why? The guy who mentioned the Kevlar vest above makes exactly the right point. I dunno about you, but I'm not sitting out with my laptop in the middle of murder row.

And frankly, Detroit just isn't the kind of creative town (a la Richard Florida's Rise Of The Creative Class) where there are the same level of independently employed creative types like in NYC, Los Angeles, Seattle, and other places who use Starbucks as a meeting place/workplace/resting place on weekdays.

Starbucks in Detroit is basically a place where white collar workers grab their coffee enroute to the office, and where people hang out on the weekends. And even then, the weekend crowd there is way different than the people you see in urban creative centers, and not in a good way.

The last two times I was in the Grosse Pointe Starbucks, I was the only one with a laptop, and the same three religious nutters tried to convince me I'd burn in hell if I didn't believe in Jesus. (Don't ask -- I guess I just have that 666 look tattooed across my godless harlot forehead.) Anyway, the point is, Detroit's not exactly the gay-friendly, creativity-fostering environment Richard Florida talks about...hence, no need for many Starbucks.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search Site

Ads (2)