A Cup of Vancouver Real Estate


Photo Credit YatterMatters


Ah Starbucks! That wonderful place where the elixir known as a non-fat, double hot ginger latte is dispensed into a paper cup for a paltry $6.00.

Starbucks, that place, a morning universe now in chaos, shattered by someone who had too much or too little – either a potential path to madness!

A rage it was, leaving smashed and broken glass at this Mackenzie and Broadway establishment. Resembling that which befell Cupcakes mere weeks ago. They, those mad perpetrators of this insanity, decided that a new venue for destruction was in order. A locale simple and at hand. The alluring smell of coffee must have beckoned!

Unexpected Brew

The greater majority of Canadians are a ‘get along and go along’ society. While a harmonious group, there are times when their personal rights are challenged. It is then that you can expect ‘push back’.

Sorrowful was witnessing of the destruction of our neighborhood coffee shop. Unexpected from this brew of shattered glass is the lesson within this anecdote. It is a disclosure dark with reflection of an alternate madness. One that appears by far, to be more insidious than the breaking of windows. The alternate was witnessed in that millisecond when your fingertip launches a camera’s shutter. In that brief moment, when the shutter let in the light, words fierce and loud, rang out – “You can not take a picture!”

The words heard as they escaped through the newly broken porthole, came from an impassioned barrista. Clear they were, for the multiple commands rose above the din of the busy Broadway traffic as she once again declared – “You can not take a picture!”


Photo Credit YatterMatters

Aware that this photographer was clearly within the bounds of public space, the incantation repeats. Curious of this bold attack, she is approached to be asked by what authority does she who represents this company, make such a demand? Oblivious to the petition, again the words were heard- “You can not take a picture!”.

Moby and Ahab

Like Moby Dick’s charge at Pequod, the surprise came! Realizing that the repeated demands would not be attended, the barrista assumed a likeness of Ahab’s defiant stance behind the shattered glass. As contemptuous as Ahab, she stood her ground, daring the photo be taken. Like Moby, the camera clicked as it whispered ‘push back’!

Dubious Cause

The young woman’s action prompts questions. Why was she so emphatic in her declaration that no photo be taken? Can broken glass be that important? Is one to assume that the task performed reflects an employer’s dogma that includes the subrogation of the basic tenants of individual freedoms? Is one to assume that somewhere in Starbuck’s policy it willingly places it’s employees in a position where they must relinquish their understanding of an individual’s public rights in favor of the corporation? Further, by extension, does that policy imply that they have judicial control over public space or more simply, was this an example of their bullying method to manage brand reputation? Having lived to tell the story with camera firmly in tow, can one further assume that a similar reaction might take place were photos taken without broken windows? Would Ahab be standing stand guard?

This encounter was not a favorable experience. It leaves a residue of lingering bitterness, a flavor equal to their less popular blends. Left to wonder, one asks – to what extent does corporate control extend? Are we to suppose Starbuck’s jittery perspective of individual freedoms to be nothing more than a derivative of too much dark brew or is it a perspective more in keeping with Ahab’s madness?

A Cup of Real Estate

Within this anecdote, resides themes applicable to buying or selling your home.

Negotiation is that fine art of explaining and understanding the issues as they mutate with the intensity of the moment. Correctly interpreting the ‘why’ and the ‘wherefore’ of those moments provide the map by which that magic place called ‘the deal’ is found.

Whether you are the seller or buyer, adopting the stance of a bully while shouting your position will assuredly result in counterproductive results. Left to reflection will be a myriad number of questions starting with ‘What went wrong’ and answers that are little more than a bitter cup of coffee.

Drawing a hard line in sand without understanding the impact that line may have on the other party matches Ahab’s single purpose sensibility. A position from which you can only expect shattered results.

*All references to logo’s and corporate names are the property of Starbucks Coffee Company.

**For the benefit of the innocent insolent features removed.

***Moby Dick, Ahab from the novel ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville.

About Larry Yatkowsky

Larry is a recognized real estate expert. A veteran professional, his experienced counsel leads Vancouverites in his west side community to place their trust in a man passionate about his work. Uncompromising ethics bring a balanced approach to realizing your real estate dreams.

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*Disclaimer: Statistics Courtesy REBGV. While believed to be accurate they are not guaranteed.
**Numbers provided may vary as they are dynamically posted by the REBGV.

Reader Comments:

March 22nd, 2009 at 1:17 am

She was so emphatic because not enforcing corporate policy can cost her her job.

It’s always been Starbucks’ policy not to allow photographs to be taken inside the store. I believe (though am not sure) that this was originally because the stores were targeted by copycats who were attempting to ensure their cafes looked as much as possible like Starbucks. They’d take shots of the menu board in particular.

The interior of the store is not public space. It’s corporate space. The exterior of the store is public space and they can’t stop you from taking a picture from outside.

But anyone who works at Starbucks should know better than to bellow at a customer. Somebody needs to switch to decaf.

March 22nd, 2009 at 8:17 am


to be clear – the photos were taken while on public space (sidewalk).

re: enforcement – exactly! Their control to my knowledge does not extend to public domain

that she bellowed isn’t my point. what she wasn’t prepared to understand is that effectively she was perpetrating an assault on a another person in a public space

ummm make that former customer

Andrea C. Says:
March 23rd, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Fantastic writing!

Starbucks brainwashes its employees from day one to to defend the Brand. Store managers are particularly mindless this way. (I used to work for the racket years ago – lasted three months).

I agree, you were verbally assaulted by this person.

There’s so many reasons someone might want to heave an object through a Starbucks window. The sole owner of the majority of the stores, Howard Schultz, is most definitely not a force for good in this world. His never-ending antagonism towards proper labour standards is just one example. His stores regularly face demonstrations in New York City.

March 23rd, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Thanks! I just thought the reaction a little over the top – as in geez, it’s only a broken window. Too much milk in your coffee seems far more critical.

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