Fast Company

Today's Good Citizen Award: Starbucks

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Another In Stall-ment of the first annual Bathroom Blogfest..

It’s early morning, and I’m running late for a meeting with a Big Deal Designer downtown. I’ve had too much coffee, with predictable results.

The last thing I want to do on meeting this guy is to say, “Hi, how-are-ya, can I use your restroom?” It’s a mortifying way to begin a conversation.

But what to do? This is Manhattan. Public restrooms are in short supply. No pissoirs here, pal.

I bolt up the subway stairs, and there, on the corner, like a beacon in a storm, I see before me….Starbucks! Lord knows, I don’t need another Ethiopian Sidamo, but I sure could use a friendly facility. I duck in, do what I need to do, move on to the interview, cool as a cucumber.

Much has been written about Starbucks’ reinvention of the coffee shop, about its forays into the music and book businesses, about its strategy around the concept of the “third place.’ But why has the chain been given so little in the way of props for its civic mindedness on the restroom front? Sure, the price of entry is supposed to be at least a tall (that would be small) house blend. But in the city, where gas stations are as hard to find as cheap parking, it’s often the only option. And for that, we tip our hats.

By way of thanks, I made sure to stop in later for a grande skim extra foamy chai latte. Good thing there are Starbucks on every block on the route home.

Other participating bloggers:

Customer Experience Crossroads

What I Do for a Living

The Curious Shopper

Church of the Customer

Customers Are Always

Experienceology

Flooring the Consumer

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2 Comments

  • roger fulton

    was captured and held incognito in the Peoples' Republic of Portland, Oregon for five years. Ran into the Starbucks on Fourth Avenue every chance I got (to get out of the hourly rain storms). Howsomever, found service, lattes, restrooms and warm environs superwonderful against the cold chills of the PACNW and best of all the "mantras" came free with the coffee.
    My theory as to why coffee shops every 40 feet in America's rainy district? To wash down the
    Imipramine, I suppose.

  • Sean

    Huh? Free?
    I rarely go to Starbucks (and I live in Seattle), and at both locations I've been at both had locked bathrooms that required you get a code from the barista.

    Civic mindedness indeed.