Thursday, February 21, 2008

Home with a Mocha Latte

This is going to be a jump from the ideas I was considering, but there's a relationship between the escape that is people's homes, and the profiting of businesses such as Borders and especially Starbucks coffee.

I stopped into the QT shop after dropping my mom off at work (she can't drive cause she broke her foot), and I noticed as I was in there, trying to figure out which energy drink didn't taste like gasoline, that there were a lot of employees there, for such a small store, and that they all seemed happy and enjoyed talking to the customers that came in. The customers acted as if they had been coming there every day for years, and that's just something that they did. I felt that if I closed my eyes, I would have been in Cheers bar in Boston, with Rhea Perlman and Ted Dekker and Norm.

(And while I'm on the subject, that's exactly why the sitcoms of that era worked as well as they did. Those shows were "home" for us for thirty minutes each night. We got to know the bar Cheers, or the courtroom in Night Court or the Huxtable household. If it feels like home, it will be successful, even if it's nothing like home. And that's definitely another blog post, cause there's so many things to think about why one television show is more successful than another.)

So if it's a given that people go to their houses to escape from the real world, then there's a need that has to be filled. People are unsatisfied with the atmosphere that they work in. They need someplace to go. And home, while an answer, never seems to leave those people happy. So the answer is to go from work to home to someplace else where people can feel at home. Someplace they can socialize with other people that share the same feelings and interests that they do. Thus the need for coffee houses, bars, and clubs, where you can spend your money and exist in a place that feels like "home," wherever that may be.

Thus Starbucks saw this and created an atmosphere where someone can go and hang out and talk with friends while buying coffee for the cost of a half a tank of gas. And people do it!! To have a place where you go even once a week, and feel like you've walked into a place where you are welcome, and loved, much like a family (insert deterioration of the American family idea here), people would spend any amount of money to achieve that. And Starbucks knew it, and they've made a gazillion dollars because of it.

But it's not just coffee houses that can achieve this. I went to Crystals in Covington, after a doctors appointment early in the morning (I had to fast), and saw there a whole Last Supper full of old men sitting there talking about politics and their health problems and being prejudiced and all the things that the old men used to do at any number of places in small towns. Sort of like the Cornbread Cafe in Milledgeville or Evans Pharmacy in Conyers. This means that any business can achieve this home feeling if the products are enticing, if the customers are welcome, and if it feels like home.

And this is what I would recommend to any business, such as Borders, that sells so called luxury items that are also comfort products. It would be ideal for a bookstore to have a couch and a fireplace and the sound of rain beating on a tin roof, so that you could curl up with a good book underneath a blank with a $5 cup of hot chocolate and read. Or a place where a group of people could meet every week (as our store does) and discuss books, or life, or whatever. It's what makes a business successful, to make the customers need to be there. Without that feeling, it would be hopeless to survive in an economy such as this, where anything that isn't absolutely necessary be tossed out in favor of gas and grocery. I sound like I'm talking about getting people to buy cigarettes or something, and in some cases that's an appropriate analogy. People get addicted to books, just like anything else. But it's more than that. People want to come to a bookstore or a coffee shop to be comforted into a feeling of being at home, while escaping everything else in their lives. I always want to go to Borders, where I work, because it feels like home to me. I want my customers to feel the same way.

No comments:

Post a Comment