Starbucks' loss: Java junkies jam Biggby shops

Category: Uncategorized

By Erin Albanese


The Grand Rapids Press


Michelle VanHall looked slightly disappointed at Starbucks in Grandville on Tuesday when an employee told her they were closed. But she perked up when she heard free coffee was just a short drive away.


Local Starbucks shut their doors Tuesday for a three-hour “Art of Espresso” training session, part of a nationwide transformation effort.


At the same time, Biggby Coffee’s 16 greater Grand Rapids locations offered everything on its drink menu for free, an effort to capitalize on the situation. Dunkin’ Donuts also offered 99-cent coffee.


“That answers my question,” said VanHall, of Cutlerville, who wondered how she would kill an extra half hour. Next stop: Biggby. “That’s not too far from where I need to go,” she said.


A Starbucks spokeswoman who declined to be identified said the corporation would not estimate the loss in revenue it expected from closing more than 7,000 shops for the evening.


The training is an investment into perfecting its product, she said.


The line at Biggby in Grandville crowded the entry and dining area of the shop, and at the Wyoming store, cars waiting at the drive-through backed up onto 28th Street. Some customers waited more than an hour.


Chad Weitz, manager of Camille’s Sidewalk Café in Grandville, located in the same strip mall as Biggby, said he felt frustrated when cars crowded into the parking lot.


“Because of this, Biggby has taken all of our parking spots,” he said.


Minutes later, after a small rush of business including two coffee sales at Camille’s, Weitz was feeling better.


At Noshville Coffee Cafe on 44th Street SW in Wyoming, employee Kyle Bourcier said it was business as usual — he didn’t notice an influx of turnaways from Starbucks or a loss of business because of the giveaway.


But Noshville customer Brett Muller, of Grandville, chose the local coffeehouse instead of the free java because he didn’t want to wait in line.


“I drove by (Biggby) and passed it up just to come here,” he said.


But Mitch DeWitt, of Grandville, who waited in the Biggby line, said it was all about the deal.


“Once I heard it was free, I came running,” he said.


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