Americano To Go (Away from Forbidden City)

Following up on Neil’s post, the Starbucks in Forbidden City is in fact, closing. The Chinese have gathered 500,000 signatures that caused the management to shut it down.

Is that good or bad news?

Tim Footman of The Guardian expresses a concern in his column today that “in a global market of implied cultural signifiers, absolutely any product – even a cup of mediocre coffee – seems to have the potential to challenge socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

He points out what we all know: it is not coffee that Starbucks sells. They sell “a lifestyle, a feeling, a brand, a corporate reimagining of bohemian leisure.” Although the Chinese are perfectly willing to sell the fancy coffee, they refuse to sell the name and lifestyle. It was either changing the name or closing shop.

If you change the name, you end up with mediocre coffee. Closing shop, I guess, made perfect sense.