I O U Starbucks

In the world of automated checkouts, mega superstores, huge fee-raking banks, and impersonal sales and service, one still holds out hope that we have not yet been completely dominated by corporate conglomerates. When I was a child I would walk into the stores along Main Street, and simply say “Put it on my parents’ account” without signing anything or requiring I.D. Flash forward to the 21st century, and that kind of familiarity and trust has all but disappeared. But my local Starbucks just provided me with a nostalgic memory, proving that today even a giant company can offer a hometown feel to customers.

Let me explain. As you all know, I love my Starbucks coffee every morning and sometimes I even treat myself to a grande drip in the afternoon. Yesterday, I did just that at the Post Road location here in Westport.

Just like any other day’s visit, I waited in line. I was behind a woman as she ordered her coffee, then realized she forgot her wallet in her other purse. I was opening my mouth to offer to pay for it myself when the girl taking the orders at the counter said, “No worries, you can pay tomorrow.”

When it was my turn to order and pay, I commented on how wonderful it was to see such a big organization have such a local hometown policy of kindness. A small act – just a mini-loan until the woman’s next visit – but it felt like a bigger expression of community.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this story is that she was able to take care of this without needing to go to a supervisor for approval. That implies that “make it right” might even be part of their policy, and so she felt empowered to elevate the service experience. As a result, her pleasant smile and comment made an impression not just on the wallet-less woman but on me, too.

I have always loved the brand, the coffee, and the experience I get when I visit a Starbucks, and no matter where I travel in the world it is remarkably consistent. Delightful, pleasant and welcoming, and so Starbucks wins my business each and every time.

And now I have a new reason to like them. Thank you, Starbucks, for giving that woman a mini-loan, just like any good neighbor would. The shops on my Main Street may have changed, but it turns out the feeling of Community lives on.