Protest outside Whitechapel Starbucks, London
Creating a froth outside Starbucks in the East End, Sat 24th March 2007
We're always up for a good old knees up and we like the Space Hijackers too, so when we got the invite below, we were already there!
"The Space Hijackers invite you to a proper east-end knees up
Starbucks, everyone's favourite nipple-less mermaid merchants, have decided to move into the east end with a new store in Whitechapel. It's an area with a vibrant community of local cafés and small coffee shops, as well as being an area local to many Space Hijacker agents. As you can probably guess, we are less than pleased about our new neighbour…
We are worried about an oncoming blanding of local culture, as other multinational chains follow Starbucks into the area and attempt to gentrify it with their bland corporate décor, homogenous facades and tasteless products. In defence of our area, and to show off the lovely culture we have, we are putting on a tea party outside the new Starbucks!
We will be setting up a stall and giving out free fair trade teas, home made sandwiches, and all manner of other goodies to our neighbours, in an attempt to show what the area will be missing if Starbucks and their ilk are allowed to settle in.
Wear your Sunday best, bring along tea, biscuits, home-made cakes, jams, and scones to share. Bring your dining room furniture out into the street, bring bunting, music and of course bring friends."
Unofficial notice spotted on hoardings surrounding the Starbucks cafe prior to opening (pic: Space Hijackers).
Photos from the day
The impromtu al-fucking freezing-fresco tables were unfortunately set up at the end of a narrow alleyway which was lashed by near hurricane force arctic gusts. It was freezing!
A fine fare of free food. The banana cake was exceptional!
Free food and drink was passed out to passers-by, most of whom stayed to hear the reasons for the protest.
If all these pictures have made you thirsty for a coffee, click here for a map (PDF format) showing independent cafes in the Whitechapel area or use the Delocator to find a non-corporate cafe near you.
You'll need it too, seeing as Starbucks have announced that they intend to open cafe in London every two weeks for the next ten years. Source: Daily Mail (sorry!).
American readers can also log on to the delocator.net site to avoid corporate coffee houses in their area, and there's also a Canadian version available too.
Why avoid the likes of Starbucks?
How about this:
"Each [Starbucks] store is designed to deliver the authentic coffeehouse experience. The only way to accomplish this and be profitable and competitive is by making all of the stores identical: the same beverages, food, ambient sounds and smells, even the same simulated coffeehouse interior wall treatments. Their products, services and spaces are quantified: eliminating any subjectivity or variance in their business practices, making all things measurable; homogenized: reducing the entire range of experience to one particular form; and commodified: everything is either directly for sale or in the aide of selling."
"Social interaction is even considered. All employees receive the exact same training for product handling, customer service, and store management, creating a cog-like work force that can be placed anywhere within the system of stores. The regulation of employees and store architecture both set a precedent for customer behavior, all unvarying, compliance-driven, and ultimately, non-social."
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