About three months ago, a local coffee shop directly across the street from a popular Starbucks closed its doors. For years the two existed, but the local joint failed to attract enough customers while the Starbucks had waves of regulars of all ages. Though the neighborhood is dense and active, it didn’t seem to be enough to support two shops offering the same range of products. A week ago, I caught the news that Starbucks closed the location. The wife and I had just been there not long ago and saw no signs of a store in trouble—customers everywhere—a vibrant retail scene. Despite “winning” the neighborhood, the corporation decided it wasn’t enough.
Obviously, I am not privy to all of the data they had to make this call, but it feels so odd and absurd. This is another reminder of how fragile our systems are. Democracy, diplomacy, manufacturing, shipping, community tolerance, popular technology platforms—nothing feels as resilient as I remember. It makes me wonder if our world has always been fragile, but I was just too distracted by work and life to see it. This isn’t something to fear (there is only so much you and I can control), but to be mindful that nothing, even the seemingly successful business, is guaranteed to last.
Days after Starbucks removed their branding and covered the windows from top to bottom with opaque paper, the empty local coffee shop across the street sported new, large window signage that read: “We’re coming back!” Maybe the world is more resilient than my frazzled, post-epidemic brain can recognize—more than it has felt in a long while.➵