April 11, 2008

Do you want fries with that (latte)?

By Meghan Barry

As a Seattleite and lover of the bean, it is hard to ignore the recent changes at the Starbucks Coffee Company. In January, with their stock price in a freefall, Starbucks fired the current CEO and put Howard Schultz back at the helm. Starbucks is poised to take on another challenge. In a shot across the bow, McDonald’s will start offering lattes (Note the blatant nautical references… I read Moby Dick). McDonald’s is even offering free small lattes during breakfast hours in the Seattle market this month.

Although this has nothing to do with “luxury real estate,” it has everything to do with a concept everyone in the real-estate world is familiar with – cost vs. value and what boutique services are really worth.

Starbucks is the boutique brokerage firm, McDonald’s is the commission-cutting broker. Starbucks charges $3-$4 for an espresso drink, McDonald’s charges $2-$3. Is the Starbucks experience really worth more? Are the green-apron-clad (and usually well-educated and overqualified) neighborhood baristas better than the minimum-wage-earning, polyester-donning McDonald’s staffers?

For more, visit www.unsnobbycoffee.com, and consider the fact that, no matter what, you usually get what you pay for.


Editor’s Note:
Meghan Barry is the Executive Vice President of LuxuryRealEstate.com. She works closely with CEO/Publisher John Brian Losh to organize a variety of Luxury Real Estate programs, events and services. Now here are some very interesting insights into the luxury real estate market or any market, really. Are consumers mainly interested in the best deal or do they care more about quality? Very interesting questions. What’s your answer to this conundrum?