In South Park, (the audience discovers) Harbucks coffee is actually tastier than the local brand.
In real life, Limu Coffee would kick Caribou's ass in a fair fight. Limu's coffee is better, and costs less. Like most coffee shops, Limu has other offerings (smoothies, various teas). It has a drive-thru. It has wifi. Unlike most coffee shops, the non-coffee beverages are as high-quality as the coffee. The hot cocoa is made from some kind of swiss powder that tastes unbelievably good - like something Willy Wonka would create. I live 20 miles away, and I try to find excuses to visit Limu Coffee.
In South Park, Harbucks competes (somewhat) traditionally, by opening a giant store across the road from Tweeks.
Caribou, on the other hand, has negotiated an exclusive lease agreement with the shopping center where Limu has operated since birth. The shopping center can't lease space to other coffee shops as long as it leases to Caribou.
The shopping center denies wrongdoing"Any suggestion by the tenant that it is being forced to close its business is contrary to the facts and without merit." reads the statement by the real-estate conglomerate which owns the plaza. Duplicitious bullshit. Of course Limu isn't being forced to close. They're just being forced to move.
Caribou denies wrongdoing"The decision had nothing to do with us. If the landlord wanted to keep the tenant, it should not have granted us the exclusive, and we'd still have gone there." Double bullshit. They'd still have gone there, but for less money. Caribou is paying more for that exclusive contract than it would for a non-exclusive one. The exclusive contract was their idea. The local paper and TV station have covered this story. Afterwards, Caribou attempted to shift blame toward the shopping center. In a follow-up statement from the CEO:
"I want to go on record to say Caribou supports the wishes of Ms. Azeze to continue to operate in her current location. Any clause we have in our contract that limits leasing to other coffee shops pertains only to future leases, not to her renewal. This type of clause is standard in mall contracts, primarily to keep large competitors from opening up next to our stores. We have no concerns about Ms. Azeze. We hope she can work out a new lease and wish her only the best. She is a good neighbor."What a bunch of clumsy spin-doctoring. "I want to go on record to say Caribou supports the wishes of Ms. Azeze to continue to operate in her current location." That's a false statement. You can't simultaneously support competition and press for contracts that prevent it. "This type of clause is standard in mall contracts..." Sure. Burger King and McDonalds and Wendys and Arbys and DQ compete on nearby turf. Barnes & Noble and B Dalton have bookstores in the same mall. Kohl's and JCPenney can sell clothes together. Sears and Home Depot can sell tools across from each other. But heaven forbid another coffee shop should operate near Caribou. What's worse than the lie is the attempt to paint such anti-competitive contracts as "standard". "...primarily to keep large competitors from opening up next to our stores." That is really pretty stunning hypocrisy. Here's the attempt to avoid responsibility: "Any clause we have in our contract that limits leasing to other coffee shops pertains only to future leases, not to her renewal" This is also a lie. It's contradicted by the CEO's earlier statement: "If the landlord wanted to keep the tenant, it should not have granted us the exclusive." It's also contradicted by the letter from the shopping center announcing the lease termination: "The lease agreement with Caribou provides that no other coffee shop will be allowed in the shopping center" (source) Finally, there's this bit of patronizing flackery. "We have no concerns about Ms. Azeze. We hope she can work out a new lease and wish her only the best. She is a good neighbor." Yeah, I bet you chat often. Let's face facts:
- If Caribou coffee gave a damn about anything local, they'd have hardly done this in the first place. Their corporate headquarters is barely 8 miles from Limu Coffee.
- According to their IPO filing, Caribou is aiming at 15,000 retail outlets. They're trying to beat Starbucks at the "get-bigger-faster" game.
Here at Caribou Coffee, we believe this to be true: that if passion, hard work, and excellence go into an endeavor, the outcome will be a quality experience, and therefore rewarding.(While making sure other folks' passion, hard work and excellence doesn't interfere with our rewards.) According to Caribou's Code of Business Conduct & Ethics (pdf):
C. Fair DealingBut exclusive lease agreements are ok because, you know, Starbucks.
The Company has a history of succeeding through honest business competition. We do not seek competitive advantages through illegal or unethical business practices. Each employee and director should endeavor to deal fairly with the Company's customers, vendors, service providers, suppliers, competitors and employees. No employee or director should take unfair advantage of anyone through manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts, or any unfair dealing practice.