For its first store in Colombia, Starbucks opened a 2,700-square-foot flagship location replete with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants. It's apparently part of a plan to open more flagships in major cities.
"We are designing and opening flagship stores around the world," CEO Howard Schultz said in a phone interview last week from Bogota with Bloomberg BusinessWeek at the store's opening. "We are in a position to open the kind of stores that are similar to what Apple and Niketown have been able to do."
Schultz mentioned that Starbucks is planning a flagship location in the U.S., although the location was not given. Other flagships include a 3,000-square-foot flagship store opened last year in Bengaluru, India, as well as two locally themed flagships in China.
The article noted that Starbucks recently opened a number of "high-design" cafes in several U.S. cities that serve as statement stores if not outright flagships. Many act like mini-museums paying homage to each city's history.
In July, a 4,400 square-foot location opened near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Many of the details are inspired by the city's nautical past, including a steel front door made of ship's hull material. A concrete wall discovered during demolition of the previous space portrays elements of the city's history.
Design details of a themed store opened in Austin in February speak both to the city's early history as a timber outpost and its recent reputation as a destination for local music. A location opened last year in New Orleans was reimagined to what the space might look like had it belonged to a Louisianan merchant in the early 1900s.
For the May opening of its first company-owned store opened at Walt Disney World, Starbucks added a "passion wall video" rendered to look like an animated painting or drawing that projects the story behind Starbucks coffee.
But the splashy Colombia location supports Starbucks' aggressive expansion in Latin America, a relatively untapped area for the chain. Opened through a joint venture between two of its longest-term partners in the region—Alsea and Grupo Nutresa, the three-level location is the first time Starbucks is exclusively serving coffee sourced locally. It's also the first time Starbucks has installed a Clover machine, a $12,000 high-end system for making single-cup brewed coffee, which is popular with locals.
How important will the opening of flagship or statement stores be to the future success of Starbucks in the U.S. and around the globe?