Denver Post columnist Al Lewis is on a crusade. A cranky Starbucks crusade! "How 'bout a slice of lemon to go with that $2.10 iced tea?" he asks, rhetorically. Because there is no lemon! Other places, they give you lemons. But fancy-schmancy Starbucks? No lemons. Don't blame Al Lewis. He's written (multiple) columns! He's sent his concerns all the way up the chain to the CEO! And now he knows why Starbucks' stock has lost half its value in a year: because they can't get Al Lewis a freakin' slice of lemon:
I wrote a column about this glaring deficit in the "Starbucks Experience" in 2004. Back then, nobody seemed to care about any negative publicity that might be associated with not offering lemons. But now that Starbucks is slipping, maybe they will listen.
In the past year, Starbucks stock has slid from $32 a share to $16.34 on Monday. Last week, it reported a 28 percent fall in quarterly profit.
Chief executive Howard Schultz is blaming the economy.
Ha, right. Lewis eventually gets Starbucks' executive vice president for global strategy on the phone. But she fails to see the light:
"In my world of new products and operations . . . believe it or not, bringing fresh lemons into our stores is a challenge," she said. "Because it's fresh fruit. How do you cut them? It's a big ordeal."
How about those little packets of concentrated lemon juice? I asked. Maybe put them on the condiment counter beside the sugar and the chocolate powder?
"That's prime real estate over there," Gass explained. "And we haven't really seen a big groundswell of requests for this."
Starbucks: you just lost $2.10.