I'm sitting here at my unnecessarily small and round table at the local Starbucks, observing the floor layout. Every Starbucks I've ever been in, large or small, has two or three kiosks devoted to selling capuccino makers, travel mugs, teas, games, and the like. Each back-to-back kiosk takes up about 8 square feet of floor space; all total, we're talking 24 or more square feet of space wasted to these racks. And I've never seen anyone buy anything off of these displays. Never. Not that I'd ever question the wisdom of the Starbucks folks, but it seems to me to be a lot of floor space devoted to merchandise that simply doesn't move. Of course, given that Starbucks does devote the space, one might assume that said merchandise actually does move, at least well enough (given presumably sky-high profit margins) to pay for themselves. Now, in a largish Starbucks, it's no big deal. But in many of the older, smaller locations, giving 24 square feet is a significant portion of the total floor space; you could get two or three unnecessarily small tables in the same area. So why does Starbucks do it? Beats me.
Then there's the matter of power -- electrical power, that is. Many newer Starbucks are pretty good about providing electrical outlets along the walls, enough to satisfy the increasing number of laptop users who frequent the joints. But there are lots of Starbucks that simply don't have the outlets (or the wallspace for them). Is upper management considering this issue? Do they have plans to retrofit older locations with extension cords and the like? Inquiring minds want to know.
I'm also somewhat amazed at the amount of CDs displayed in the typical Starbucks store. Not just the Starbucks-branded compilations; apparently Starbucks contributed mightily to the sales of the latest (and presumably last) Ray Charles duets CD. Music seems to be important in a coffeehouse environment; I'll give Starbucks credit for doing it right. They have a good mix of tunes, both in terms of style and in terms of familiarity/obscurity. And the Starbucks Hear Music channel on XM radio is one of my favorite presets, believe it or not. Kudos to whomever does the music programming out in Seattle. They have good ears.