Starbucks is removing its name from the 15th Avenue East store in Seattle, the company's hometown. In fact, 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea went from imminent closure to ground zero for the coffee giant's "unbranding" experiment, complete with a makeover to fit Starbucks' new look. Even the coffee is getting relabeled. Starbucks plans to do this in at least three more Seattle-area stores, and possibly in other markets if this catches on. The idea is to instill "a community personality" in Starbucks locations, which—in addition to the cosmetic changes—amounts to serving alcohol, hosting live performances and using manual espresso machines. It's a little hollow, yes. A friend of mine summed it up as Starbucks trying to buy credibility. It doesn't help that Starbucks employees staked out other coffee shops to steal such novel ideas as not making customers feel like corporate whores every time they bought something. But any effort on their part to make themselves less conspicuous is a good one, and I might even take the bait if they drop the prices on their sandwiches.
—Posted by David Kiefaber