It’s been a while since I walked into a Starbucks that feels special. The wooden finish and slate menu give sits a little satisfaction to commuters who rely on coffee for their lives in the morning. But over the past few years, it has slowly become a place where people buy lattes on their way to work, and Starbucks’s well-designed stores have become less attractive than other upper-middle-class business espressurs. After all, there are 31,000 Starbucks stores in 81 different countries and regions.
But when I first stepped into the company’s brand-new Starbucks, the $20.4 billion coffee giant was amazing! The 4-story, 35,000-square-foot Starbucks, the largest ever, is located in Crate and Barrel’s former flagship store on Michigan Avenue.
Five years ago, I flew to Seattle for the opening of the first Starbucks Reserve. Its vast copper footprint sits beautiful at times, but the beauty of its industrial loft is gradually entering the realm of steampunk. After opening six such bakeries in a few years, Starbucks has made its vision of opening a super-sized store less absurd. The new store is more accessible: a sculptural four-story retail space filled with natural light and panoramic views of Chicago’s busiest shopping district.
At the center of the store is a four-story bronze bucket filled with beans that can be seen as a classic caffeinated grain silo. All the beans are roasted, degassed, and then delivered to the coffee bar on each floor through a curved pneumatic pipe network. At the same time, the ceiling radiates from this gleaming tower, like a sunrise with five shades of gray jade and brass.
The color scheme is reminiscent of the latest store in Marshall Field, a Chicago-based retail chain. Once all the hidden panels are removed from the building’s huge windows, the interior should be visible from the street. As we walked the spiral escalator to the second floor of the cask, Starbucks design director Jill Enomoto explained the biggest challenge of designing the space, which is how to attract people all the way to the top.
“How do you create this amazing experience so that you can attract customers at different levels and make sure they’re not just walking through the front door and say, ‘Oh, I saw the baker!'” she said. ‘”
Each floor will make you visually similar, as the soft white oak trees have penetrated into every bar and furniture, but in fact each floor has a distinct theme. For example, on the first floor, you can watch the roasting of coffee beans and have a Starbucks Reserve coffee bar. Iron stoves are displayed on the second floor for The Princi baked goods, including pastries and pizzas served throughout the day. The third floor is where the “experiential” coffee bar is located, offering a variety of services, from nitrogen-fueled ice cream mixers to brewing methods such as siphon-pot coffee, and a spacious low table designed to invite you to sit here for a while. The last fourth floor is an alcohol bar, with the company’s first whisky barrel of old-drink cold-drink coffee (being tested for wider roll-out in the future).
Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ chief executive, said: “The real purpose of this strategy is to deliver an immersive customer experience for all coffee in a way that no one else can reach. “It’s hard to know how much this Chicago store will cost and run, but it’s a staggering number, so much so that even if the company plans to sell four layers of fresh baked beans a day to customers, it’s unlikely that the store will open smoothly in the run-up to its 25-year lease.”
“These are long-term investments,” Johnson said. But the real goal is to provide customers with all the latest coffee experiences. ”
When Crate and Barrel meet Starbucks
Any Chicagoan would notice that the new Starbucks is located on the site of the flagship store at Crate and Barrel, in an iconic building near the Michigan Avenue shopping district. Behind the election is a story that suggests that retail ingress with starbucks, Crate and Barrel and other global brands.
Howard Schultz was a salesman at Hammarplast, a Swedish homewares company, before opening his first Starbucks in the Pacific Northwest. Gordon Segal, the founder of Crate and Barrel, still remembers the day when a young Schultz showed up at his Chicago headquarters to peddle some spices on plastic shelves. “I walked into a room and shook his hand, and if I didn’t attend the meeting, I would shake hands with the salesstaff,” Segal recalls. “Then a few years later, he started Starbucks Coffee, but I saw him at a national event and then met him a few times. ”
For years, both men focused on the growth of their empires. In the late 1980s, Segal began to open a flagship store for Crate-Barrel. He took a fancy to a veteran stable in Michigan and Erie, full of medical offices. He said the investment was significant because the building needed to be demolished and rebuilt. However, Segal eventually bought the property and devoted himself to the project of leasing Crate and Barrel.
“I really wanted to open this store in a more architectural way,” Segal said. He noted that he hired John Buenz, a longtime collaborator at SCB Construction, to design. “We completed 22/23 design studies to understand what we can do. I always say, no, Jonn, not good enough, and John is the most patient and calm architect, and he’s not at all self,” Says Segal.
In the end, Segal and Buenz had the right aesthetic: a steel and glass building with a white facade, which he called the “Frank Lloyd Wright” circular hall. “Everyone said, ‘It’s a crazy design, everything on Michigan Avenue is rectangular!’ Segal recalled with a laugh. “I’m really starting to worry that we’re going to be boycotted for destroying the area. I heard all sorts of people worried about the appearance of the building and its impact on the street. ”
During the planning process, two real estate managers contacted Segal to ask if the 2,000 square feet on the ground floor of his new building could be rented out to Starbucks, a new coffee company that wanted to leave Seattle and enter the Chicago market. Segal says his company can’t save the space to give it to others.
When the Crate-Barrel store finally opened in 1990, it was so popular that customers often lined up to visit the store.
Although the store has tens of thousands of square feet of space, it was also running at full capacity during the first holiday season.
A new wave of retail wonders
After Segal resigned as chief executive, Crate and Barrel decided to end their lease on Michigan Avenue. Twenty-eight years after the store opened, it was more of a tourist attraction than a huge number of retail showrooms. It closed in 2018, and although Segal didn’t disclose it, I felt the news hit him hard. The shop is very private to him. “We put a lot of effort and anxiety into it, and my wife and I decided we wanted to have it for a long time,” Segal said. That’s why he first bought the land, and that’s why he wanted to rent it out to the right company so he could use it next.
In 2016, Segal attended an event hosted by Aspen College, where Schultz won the award, because of uncertainty about the future of the property. When Segal stood up from his seat to say hello, “my wife whispered, Why don’t you tell him about Michigan Avenue?” He remembered. “Schultz looked at me and said, ‘Gordon, Gordon,’ let’s make a deal! We’ll solve this problem. “After eight months of long negotiations, Starbucks signed the lease.
Segal has only one piece of advice for new tenants: add a staircase on the second floor so that people don’t get stuck on the escalators when they go up and down the first and second floors. Indeed, I felt it because I lived a few blocks from Crate and Barrel. You’ll be amazed when you take the elevator through the circular hall, but you’ll also be distressed by waiting for the next lift. Yes, it’s an iconic location and building, but visitors come in and feel like a nightmare because of the heavy traffic.
So in addition to the new Starbucks bakery, there are beautiful hand-painted signs, four-story murals, two-story delivery elevators that transport baked goods from the first floor coffee shop to the second-floor bakery and the aforementioned coffee bean super-elevated through the space, as well as what design director Jill Enomoto calls “Gordon’s Big Staircase.” “。 It’s a relatively low-key staircase that plays a vital role in improving customer traffic.
The main reason for the closure of the store is a change in retail: in the era of e-commerce, big retailers across the country have suffered. But now Starbucks is reshaping the retail marvel that Crate and Barrel pioneered here nearly 30 years ago in a variety of ways. This will lead to the next wave of physical retailing: the adventure spree of the super-real-life experience.
“In the end, we did what we were going to do. To create something very beautiful, I think it will be well accepted by the people of Chicago,” Segal said. “Their biggest question, like what we’ve had before, is how to arrange for people waiting in line outside. “