Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is testing "instant coffee shops" that the chain can erect in a matter of hours, but it ran into unexpected problems in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The chain already has five of the new prefab stores, which are made of recycled shipping containers, assembled offsite and set up in about three hours by a four-person work crew on a prepared lot. But in Chicago, where the sixth store was supposed to be installed on Friday (Sept. 13), the truck carrying the container broke down. Then it was delayed further by a hostage standoff nearby.
That meant the installation job wasn't finished by noon, as scheduled, but had to be completed on Saturday. The 700-square-foot walk-up/drive-through store -- there's an outdoor patio but no in-store seating -- is still scheduled to open in late September.
Starbucks opened the first of its "modern modular" stores in Seattle in 2011, and has since added them in Portland, suburban Kansas City and Denver. The chain says the stores are tweaked to fit the area the stores are literally dropped on. For example, the one in Denver is clad in Wyoming snow fencing.
The Chicago store, which is at the south edge of the Loyola University campus, will include bike racks, but they're not likely to get much use starting in a few months. The drop-and-go store is also being installed within yards of a Dunkin' Donuts (NASDAQ:DNKN) store, just months after Dunkin' declared that its main business now is being a coffee shop.
That probably wasn't a key consideration for placing the new store -- finding a postage-stamp space site near the college campus was probably more important. Starbucks has already won the coffeeshop war, and its new battles as it expands are likely to be the drive-through coffee shacks that can be placed in almost any parking lot in the space normally occupied by two parking spaces. The prefab Starbucks stores aren't that tiny, but at least they can compete with the tiny drive-throughs for setup speed.
- See this Chicago Tribune story
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