The ‘comic ubiquity’ of Starbucks

July 7, 2008, 10:49 PM UTC

Sometimes one well-crafted line enables a single article to tell an entire company’s story. I found that line over the long weekend in a nicely written piece by New York Times tech writer Brad Stone. Commenting on the breakneck expansion Starbucks followed before it slammed into a no-growth wall, Stone writes:

The company has long been known in the world of commercial real estate for its expertise at selecting prime locations and its fearlessness in establishing almost comic ubiquity in some neighborhoods. Starbucks would not comment for this article. But it appears that the company strayed from the exacting real estate science that it had perfected and guided it through its first expansion wave.

I loved that expression, “almost comic ubiquity,” because I’ve long wondered how in the world Starbucks could thrive in a world where you could see multiple Starbucks outlets without moving. Here’s a cartoon that tells the story nicely as well.