It’s amazing what lengths Starbucks will go to, for attention. It’s not enough that they are the number one coffee retailer in the world, or that you can’t roll a bowling ball down a street without hitting three of them, but now they’ve gone ahead and shown up all the coffee shops in the world that were lame enough to do business in a plain old brick and mortar building.

In the news is the latest and most innovative Starbucks yet. It is located in Tukwila, Washington and is located inside not one, not two or three, but four shipping containers, for the most creative instance of upcycling we’ve seen in a long time. The drive thru store, which opened its doors (hatches?) on Dec 13, 2011, is home to about 450 square feet of usable space. The containers are stacked in such a way as to be pleasing to the eye, rather than just lined up end on end like any old coffee shop could do.

The messages Starbucks is sending with this unique store are important. Firstly, whether intentional or not the irony of them doing business inside the same type of containers that traditionally send and receive their products all around the world is not lost on the consumer. And secondly, they are sending a message about the importance of reuse and making new out of old.


(image from http://www.inman.com/news/2012/01/21/starbucks-coffee-now-served-in-cargo-containers)

 

The containers themselves are of two different sizes, three are forty feet long, and one is twenty, and they work really well to create an eco-industrial type feel to this store. The store with the shipping container home is unique in that it is the only LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building in Tukwila. And it is unique to the Starbucks Corporation as it is one of very few that has no seating inside.

Shipping containers as storefronts isn’t a completely new idea as there are other companies that paved the way for Starbucks, but it’s not like you see them all over. Stockbox grocers out of Seattle have set up grocery stores of the pop up variety, meant to allow people access to a grocery store where none are easily accessible.

Considering the typical lifespan of a container is around twenty years, a shipping container home for a business seems like a good idea. It keeps the containers out of the scrap yard, saves on alternate materials needed for new construction and is a unique marketing idea that will draw in new customers.

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