Questions About Licensed Stores

Hi, this is Kerry Busheikin, vice president of Operations for Licensed Stores East. There have been a lot of great questions lately about licensed stores. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some information about why we license and the benefits it provides our customers and I’ll address some of the questions asked.

A Starbucks licensed store is owned and operated by an approved licensee.  Each licensee is closely evaluated to ensure they meet our stringent requirements in order to operate the Starbucks brand. These retail locations are staffed by the licensee’s employees and they follow Starbucks training guidelines including beverage quality, store cleanliness, and creating the Starbucks Experience for our customers.  

Our customers consistently tell us “convenience” ranks as one of the most important motivations to visit our locations. A licensed store provides Starbucks access to many locations that we would not have otherwise. For example, hospitals, colleges, airports and grocery stores are locations our customers tell us they want us to be in so they can purchase their favorite drink. Through these locations, we are able to significantly increase customer accessibility to our products and brand, which, from a shareholder perspective, is also valuable because of the profit it contributes to the organization.

Licensed store baristas receive training and support similar to our company owned stores. Our licensed store community works very hard to deliver the same legendary service that customers expect from every Starbucks store. Our shared goal is to have a seamless experience including quality of beverage, friendly service and convenient locations which is why we proudly represent the Starbucks brand. There are very few occasions when a licensed store is not able to participate in a Starbucks program. For example, most locations accept the Starbucks Card, but some do not have the operating system to accommodate the technology. We continue to work diligently to ensure that these types of exceptions are kept to a minimum and look for solutions to the existing exceptions.  

Thank you for your questions and please keep them coming!

All Starbucks Should Be Starbucks
posted by carma

6/3/2009 5:43 AM

I find it hard to believe that your comment that there are very few occasions when a licensed store is not able to participate in a starbucks program is true and that most locations accept the starbucks card. I have found more times than I can count that licensed stores do not accept either the gold card or the registered card. I strongly hope that these stores put into place the software to accept the cards and all the  rewards. What is the point of the convenience of having a starbucks if you cannot benefit from the rewards?

6/3/2009 10:49 AM

Hey Starbucks My Idea, You should have your own news station... opps.. you do.... you love to put the SPIN. "Seamless experience".... Is that like "brew on demand?"

6/3/2009 11:22 AM

Breve- What are you saying?

6/3/2009 4:01 PM

"There are <b>very few occasions</b> when a licensed store is not able to participate in a Starbucks program"<br><br>With all due respect...are you freaking *kidding* me?  That's simply not true.  I don't think I've *ever* been to a licensed store that would give the benefits, or accept the coupons, that a corporate store would.  This is a big problem, and it needs to be fixed, pronto.  =P

6/3/2009 8:31 PM

Hi Kerry, I'm Kathy Minton and I live in West Frankfort IL (southern IL) and there are 4 licensed stores within 25 miles of West Frankfort. The closest is in Marion IL (15 miles away) it is in a Kroger grocery store. It does NOT honor either card. The other 3 are in Carbondale IL where Souther Illinois University is located (25 miles away). 1 in a Kroger, 1 in a Barnes & Noble, and 1 in the Student Center @ SIU. NONE of them honor the cards. How can you say that there are very few occasions when a licensed store cannot participate in a Starbucks program? I have just given you information pertaining to 4 licensed stores that DO NOT participate. I have to drive 2 hours to Paducah Kentucky or St Louis Missouri to get to a corporate store that will honor my Gold Card. When Starbucks grants a license they should provide that licensee with the proper software that would allow them to participate.

Now that you know about these specific locations I sincerely hope that you will find out why they do not honor your cards and correct the problem. There are a large number of  customers in this area and they are not being fully served by your company.

6/3/2009 9:22 PM

I suspect that the misunderstanding is in what is meant by "accept" a Starbucks card.  Kerry Busheikin is right that lots and lots of licensed locations accept a Starbucks card as a form of payment. The confusion is that the benefits and rewards are not honored at the  majority of licensed stores.  This leads to a far less than "seamless" experience.

6/4/2009 9:19 AM

Accepting the card as a means of payment is not acceptable! All benefits of the card should be honored or the licensed store cannot be said to be participating in a Starbucks program. 3 of the 4 licensed stores in my area will accept the registered card as payment, that is why I have mine set up to autoload every month. It is not right that they will accept payment from me using my card but will not provide me with the other benefits that someone else can get when going to a corporate owned store.

Accepting the card as a means of payment is not enough! If there are benefits associated with the card they should be honored at all locations.

6/4/2009 9:32 AM

How can a licensed starbucks store get the training, use the name, etc. and then turnaround and say we do not accept the gold or registered cards or any of the benefits?

6/4/2009 9:49 AM

Wow - posting a very PR focused answer/ie corporate speak etc to a board like this usually does not further your cause. For me it is more than just about the cards. I feel in pursuit of more locations/revenue SBUX has diluted the brand. It is simply too available. And the associates are not the same and neither is the experience. There is an "a" and a "b" team. I SBUX should honestly focus on making this actually more clear vs. trying to get rid of the annoyances (no card acceptance etc). Best to be overt about it - because the differences are ALREADY obvious. I would even develop different signage and cups etc. Best to distance licensed vs real so that folks still can see the benefit and and reason to frequent a full real company store.

6/4/2009 3:35 PM

Suite210 - I thoroughly disagree.  Diluting the brand?  Too available?  Geez...elitist much?  Starbucks isn't a super secret club that only the cool kids can go to.  =P  And honestly?  A lot of us who frequent the licensed stores don't *have* any corporate stores around.  These twits will put a shop on every street corner in the big cities, but if you live in an even slightly rural area?  Forget it, you don't exist.  So, no.  They should not distance the licensed stores; they need to freaking *fix* them, so they're on level with the corporate stores.  =P

6/4/2009 4:59 PM

LadyKathryn, I understand this idea about "brand dilution".  There is something to a premier brand not have a "dime a dozen" feeling to it. If there is a Starbucks literally everywhere, it can feel that way. I am AMAZED that there aren't more Starbucks closures in the city of Seattle. I can easily walk (I consider a one mile walk to be short) to 4 Starbucks within my residential neighborhood (3 corp stores and 1 licensed), and there are probably 20 to 25 Starbucks within a one mile radius of my work. I have NO IDEA how Seattle supports so many. There is no need for any licensed stores within the city of Seattle, as far as I am concerned.

Your situation is totally different. Your stores just need to fully accept Starbucks benefits, rewards, and promotional offerings.  Licensing does help give access to Starbucks, and open up a world of coffee to you that otherwise would be much more difficult for you to get to.

Starbucks should look at market saturation of a location/city before signing a million licensing agreements.

6/4/2009 5:17 PM

Melody - To be honest, I don't really agree with the 'dime a dozen' thing.  All that means (to me), is that it's a successful company.  It doesn't make it less of a high-class brand.  But I can certainly agree to disagree on that.<br><br>And I do agree with you about your situation.  20-25 stores within a mile...that's just mind-boggling to me.  When there are that many corporate stores, then no, licensed ones aren't needed. <br><br>It just annoys me when people (who of course live near corporate stores) whine about the licensed stores (saying that *none* of them should exist, etc.).  A lot of them just don't get that not everyone is in the same situation.  And that, for some of us, the licensed stores are all we have.  =(

6/4/2009 5:25 PM

I believe licensing is a good way for Starbucks to reach more people. Instead of creating different signage, logo, etc to differentiate licensed stores just make them comparable to corporate stores by honoring the cards. With the technology we have today there is no reason that this cannot be done.

6/4/2009 5:26 PM

Darn it!  Melody, how do you get your HTML to work?  The way I do it works in regular comments, but not when I comment here.  Why is that, I wonder?

6/6/2009 6:19 PM

It would be nice to see a response by Kerry or another moderator to some of the questions raised on this thread. How about giving some info on what Starbucks is doing to solve this problem instead of just saying that "We continue to work diligently". It could be that someone on this site could have an idea that would help solve this problem, if we knew what the problems are.

6/6/2009 8:15 PM

It amazes me how little people read. As others have pointed out, "Starbucks Card" does NOT equal "Starbucks Card Rewards"

It is NOT EASY to implement the ability to recognize registered cards on a massive scale. Yes, it is easy for Starbucks to do it in their Company-operated stores, because they have complete control over their systems. But for a place like Target to access Starbucks' systems and recognize a registered card? That's a bit harder to do. These Licensees sometimes have BETTER things to do than to devote their entire IT departments to figuring things out for Starbucks.

To Kerry - I work at a Licensed Store...and let me tell you...Starbucks is CAVING when it comes to standards they ORIGINALLY set forth for Licensed Stores. I am Certified in AST, and I have read every page of the Operations Manual, SO MANY things are NOT followed...and these things are mandated by my company's Headquarters as well as known about by our Starbucks DM. I do not hold them accountable...I hold YOU accountable for caving in on your standards to keep your Licensing agreements. You might as well have Licensed Stores burn their Operations Manual, because it doesn't get followed.

Sorry for the rant :)

6/6/2009 8:45 PM

I disagree that it is hard for licensed stores to access SBX systems & recognize a registered card. It is a matter of software. I do not believe the licensed store should devote their IT dept to figuring things out for SBX. When SBX awards a license, they should provide the licensee with the proper software to allow them to access the card rewards. The license store should have to disclose the operating system they are using and SBX should provide software for that system as a part of the license agreement.

They provide the licensee with signage, product, etc, why not software?

6/6/2009 11:02 PM

The only licensee that I know supports the Starbucks Card for payment is Target. And I am disappointed that I do not get a 10% gold discount there.

6/7/2009 8:58 AM

Not every target that has a starbucks accepts the card. I agree that it should be easy for starbucks to provide the software to allow licensed stores to accept the card and also the rewards. Is the issue surrounding this centered on money or something else?

6/7/2009 7:45 PM

kjminton - You are forgetting that MOST licensees have signed their Master Licensing Agreement YEARS ago...before any of the rewards were part of the Starbucks Card. Also, it isn't as simple as Starbucks just creating a "program" for Linus, Windows, Mac, whatever and giving the program to a Licensee for their respective is MUCH more complicated than that.

purple1 - Every Target that has a Starbucks should accept the Starbucks Card for PAYMENT. There are restrictions to this, obviously. Starbucks Cards can ONLY be used/reloaded at registers in Starbucks, and Starbucks Cards can only be used on Starbucks drinks/pastries/merchandise (so if ring up a Deli sandwich in Starbucks, your SBUX Card isn't going to work for it.) If a Target store near you is not accepting Starbucks Cards, I would question them on could be the one time you tried, the Starbucks Card network was offline (which happens...but if you have them tell you this, ask them to type the card number in instead of swiping it, I have done this and the network magically works)

6/7/2009 9:19 PM

SBUXMaster, I KNOW what it takes to create a program, my husband is a 911 IT Specialist and my daughter is a computer science major. There are already programs that can accomplish this task. The new license agreements should include a clause to cover the honoring of cards and provision of software. The licensee should have to disclose their OS prior to the approval of the agreement. The old license agreements could be modified to include the cards. There is a way to fix this problem.

6/8/2009 7:47 AM

The brand is too available. I will not concede that point. In my area of DC you can get the produce everywhere and anywhere. Malls, real stores, grocery stores, office buildings, by metro stops,kiosks etc etc. LadyKat - you may live in a rural area where licensed operators are your only option but this is not true at all in larger cities. It is not a club - or elitist. But if you saw the quality of service and operation at some of the licensed stores you would agree with Melody and I. The quality is NOT THE SAME. SBUX has signed agreements with the operators at certain terms (which they MAY be able to enforce or not) likely for many years. Fixing them is not simple - since they do not own these outlets and policing them is a horrendous task since there are thousands of them. I just think it  has gone too far.

6/8/2009 4:05 PM

It's too late, the jeanie is out of the bottle, they have made the product available to the masses and now they need to find a way to maintain the integrity of the product. There are secret shoppers who could report on how licensed stores are doing. Depending on their reports SBX could issue an ultimatum, shape up or they pull the license. I too live in a rural area and have access to only licensed stores. One of the 4 in my area is very good, the others leave much to be desired. SBX needs to improve their hiring criteria and bring in people who are passionate about coffee. There are some of these kinds of people already at some licensed stores but most are just looking for a paycheck. I even heard one SM say adamantly that she does not like coffee! In short, diligence in maintaining quality of product and service, equal playing field, both corporate & licensed stores honoring the cards, and if all else fails, pull the license if the licensee cannot maintain the level of product/service that SBX requires.

6/9/2009 7:29 AM

Kerry Busheikin, ---- True or False ------- DOES a  Licensee need STARBUCKS more than Starbucks need the Licensee.  ..... Please fix the quality of the coffee at HMS HOST Travel Plaza's..... They brew the weakest and they seem to water it down. I ask and they claim the have pike's and gold coast  - i bought a cup of both and can't tell the difference. I go to Starbucks starbucks store ask for the same -- there's a big difference.

6/9/2009 7:36 AM

Same with alot Barne's and Noble's stores. Quality

6/9/2009 12:33 PM

Barnes and Noble is another example of a licensed store that needs to accept the registered or gold cards.

6/9/2009 7:46 PM

Hmmmmm seems to me that licensed stores = easy money for Starbucks.  

Starbucks get paid their monthly (?) fee whether these stores are performing well or not and they do not have to supply the employees as they are hired by the licensed store.

I truly believe that these stores are the wave of the future of  this company.

6/9/2009 9:15 PM

kjminton - I am not saying NEW License agreements shoudn't include this clause, in fact, they probably do. But the problem is, MOST license agreements are YEARS old. Target, Kroger, Safeway, etc make up most Licensed Stores...Starbucks can't just say they are changing the Licensing Agreement until it comes up for renewal. Also, your mention of "secret shoppers" is not accurate. Corporate stores discontinued the use of the "Snapshop" program sometime last year, and Starbucks as a whole discontinued it this Spring. The ONLY thing the Snapshot measured was store appearance, Barista personality/friendliness/service, wait time and drink specifications (temp, weight, etc...they did NOT taste it). These people didn't know how to make a Cappuccino, so they don't measure if the Barista did it right or not.

Trust me, there are measures in place for Licensed Stores complying with Starbucks guidelines. Starbucks Licensed Store District Managers should be meeting with each store atleast once a month. They can also have unannounced visits. Starbucks can't catch everything, so they rely on Customer Comment cards, emails, and phone calls to let them know about problems in a specific store. If a Licensed Store is caught doing something against policy, they are given a NNC (Notice of Non Compliance)

Also, I don't know why you said SBUX needs to focus on hiring in Licensed Stores. They do not have any say in hiring whatsoever in a Licensed Store. None. At all. Period.

Purple1 and COFFEEISLIFE - Barnes & Noble stores are NOT Licensed Stores. They are Barnes & Noble Cafes that "Proudly Brew Starbucks Coffee". Notice that your cup has a B&N logo on it? Yea, it's a B&N Cafe...every other Licensed Store gets their cups directly from Starbucks...with just the SBUX logo.

And don't say they should have the same stuff just because they display the SBUX you expect to get the same product from a box of the Macaroni Grill dinners in the grocery store as you do at the restaurant? No.

6/11/2009 10:44 AM

SBUXMaster, Barnes & Noble my travels is what i looked for - for Starbucks Coffee. Five years ago and more. Was difficult to find Starbucks Coffee Stores. Barnes & Noble stores Has/had a store locator guide which showed all locations with Starbucks. Place(hotel)  i would stay at would be in between or closest if possible to a Starbucks location.  Once introduced to the coffee quality of  Starbucks all other coffee getting locations became very undesirable Like (Einstin bagels, Grounds for Coffee, 7-11,Quick Check, Dunkin Dounuts,Cumberland Farms,ETC.)......So Barnes & Noble more than 5(FIVE) years ago was very GOOD  for coffee..Starbucks Coffee...But the quality of this coffee has dropped at most of the Barnes & Noble stores.......................WHY?

6/11/2009 10:52 AM

Even though the SBUX logo is not on the cup.........The SBUX logo is on the front of most Barnes & Noble stores. I don't expect  to get a cup of Starbucks Coffee and have it taste like it came from McDonald's or Burger King

Major League
6/11/2009 1:05 PM

In Dallas, every licensed Starbucks I go into says they do not honor the discount on the Black Card "because we are a licensee and Starbucks headquarters will not permit us to participate in the program."  It is disconcerting to one who loves to use his Black Card.

-Major League

6/11/2009 4:05 PM

I have to agree with purple1. As a daily Starbucker, with my Gold Card, I have yet to find any license store that will accept my Card. The Safeway, around the corner from me,  will sometimes take the 10% off but more times than not the Barista of the moment says they do not accept the card or understand that the 10% comes off - which defeats the use of the card. I find the inconsistency of this more frustrating than whether the cards are or are not accepted at these licensed places.  Considering how consistent and exceptional the regular Starbucks are, I find this to be an ongoing turn-off. If only I were not so addicted...

6/11/2009 10:00 PM

Now i understand the difference between 2 stores in Honolulu. I like the one in Ohana west but not the Trade Center.Holding 2000 shares of SBUX....I notice things I wouldn't otherwise.ONE must be a licensee.It is late & i'm going to bed ,but i spend 6 months in Seattle & 6 in Oahu so I visit MANY SBUX.Was in Juanita today....nice .Hope to discuss more when not exhausted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!BL

6/12/2009 1:06 PM

I have addressed the issue of licensed stores (i.e. Target, Farm Fresh, etc.) that there is constant turnover, they run out of  items to make your drinks with, they do not make them the same way, their customer service is not the same.  I always hear that they are a licensed store and they are paid by the store they work in and can not help with these issues.  I honestly believe that these licensed stores are giving Starbucks a bad name.  Convenience is good, but it is not worth the price of quality product and service.  I hear this from others also on this matter.

6/17/2009 9:13 AM

Kerry, licensing is great if well controlled, but please make sure that all location that don't accept the Starbucks card have a prominent sign clarifying this.  The lack of such a sign slows down the lines a lot, as customers are surprised and disappointed and then have to quickly find some cash.  

Please don't tell me they are supposed to have a sign.  

In practice, they do not.  That's what matters.



6/17/2009 10:23 PM


I've been to a local hospital that serves Starbucks coffee in their cafeteria.  It tasted awful.  Who knows how long it had been sitting out.  In this instance, and many others we have heard about from customers that come into our company store, this is not providing quality or giving Starbucks a good name.  

6/19/2009 1:58 PM

FF, I work in a licensed store and we are constantly gaining customers from free standing Starbucks because of customer service. After working there for a decent amount of time I have never run out of an item to make a drink. If we did we could borrow that exact product from another licensed branch without a problem.  Also we use the exact recipe cards that free standing Starbucks would use. We serve the same brews and wear the same green aprons :) It seems to me that the baristas at the store you visited were the problem, not the actual licensing of a Starbucks.

Kerry B
6/22/2009 5:39 PM

Thank you for all of your comments.  I’m hearing loud and clear that Rewards benefits at licensed stores are important to you.  I’m sharing this information with our licensees.  Our goal is to give you a consistent experience as well as convenience.  We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

6/23/2009 7:35 PM


Please do keep up posted on any progress. For those of us who only have access to licensed stores this is a VERY important issue. Any help you can give us is greatly appreciated.

Georgetown guy
8/6/2009 1:39 PM

I agree that your chances of not being able to use the Gold card are pretty high.  This is even noted on the article on Starbucks in Wikipedia.  With about 40% of all Starbuck stores owned by others there are many who do not honor the Gold card.  My two closest Starbuck stores refuse the Gold Card.  This leave a sour taste in some of Starbuck's biggest customers.  Bad form, bad logic.

8/31/2009 12:19 AM

I am, quite frankly annoyed with the immense amounts of ignorance being flaunted in all of these ambiguously retarded comments.

I personally work at a Licensed Starbucks store and my God does it annoy me when ignorant penny-pushers come in and expect to jab their stupid F&%$IN card in my face hoping for a measly 10% discount. Seriously!? If you're buying one beverage and are thinking that 10% is going to save your A$$ somehow on the total than you are wrong.  It usually only takes off like 20-70 cents based on what you got so big F%$&ING deal if you don't get the stupid discount.

You may not know this but a licensee has to pay premiums on products purchased from Starbucks. They pay royalties and all that B.S that comes with being a licensee. Therefore, certain prices and pointless discounts for retarded-gay gold card have to be adjusted to accomodate costs.

I wish people would understand this and stop being so damned naive when coming into a licensed store. If you enter a Licensed store and know it is a licensed store than DO NOT expect it to be exactly like a F&%^ING corporate store, it's NOT! That's why it's not called a corporate store you baffoons.

Lifes unfair, so stop B!tching about you're stupid starbucks cards that are really pointless in my opinion and go use your stupidity to annoy another company like Mcdonalds again for a change.

9/28/2009 2:06 AM

i work at a licesed store and we DONT accept the starbucks card because we are casino owned. its true what wootsauce says. we have to buy our stuff from starbucks. yeah we carry their name but that doesnt mean we get their stuff for free. and i hate when people say "oh so your a fake one" yeah im giving you fake coffee and a fake pastry. well one question. why would a real starbuks put at participating stores. learn how to read people. one more thing dont blame the barista and dont us attitude. its not our fault that our company doesnt take them.

9/28/2009 2:08 AM

and by the way artm. we do have a sign and its in front of their face and they still dont see it.

10/18/2009 11:49 PM

I work in a licensed store, I work in a safeway and the nearest corporate store is 8 hours away.  I've read every resource manual cover to cover and I read every barista bulletin, every email, every thing  there is to read about starbucks for one reason. I love my job. Love what you do, do what you love.  

Our store does accept the gift card as means of payment, however, or till does not give us the option to do the discount. It's all automatic.  I find that there are MAJOR differences between licensed stores and corporate stores, and in a lot of ways I feel like starbucks treats the licensed stores as the forgotten step children.

The point is, I've done the exact same training as a corporate store barista, and I'm giving the same exceptionally satisfied customers but I feel like starbucks is treating me as some sort of weird distant relative.

PS: why don't we just give all licensed stores a sbux till?

11/10/2009 8:44 AM


We have an excellent recommendation for a Starbuck’s store location. I know your company is cutting back, but I can see it being very productive and profitable. Perhaps you have already looked at it, but for some reason have not put a store there.

It is at I-10 and Wilmot. It could go either on the south side next to the Shell station and Quiznos or on the north side next to the Chevron station. You would be the only espresso shop to catch incoming traffic from I-10 coming into Tucson from the east and the last opportunity since Cortario way north of town to catch traffic leaving Tucson to the east. The only espresso shop serving the entire south east side including the huge area of Rita Ranch and the large corporate parks around there is an independent shop, Javilinas in Rita Ranch by the Safeway that also has an internal Starbucks. We have another 170 new homes being build behind our subdivision, Vista Montana, south of I-10 and Wilmot. In addition, you have the hundreds of staff who work at the prisons south of I-10 on Wilmot. What an absolute goldmine for Starbucks. I cannot understand why Starbucks has not build here before. The closest store is at 22nd and Kolb!

12/12/2009 1:06 PM

@ wootsauce; I am not knocking the licensed stores, my fav SBX is a licensed store inside a Kroger grocery. It is by far the best in my area. The baristas are spot on when it comes to making drinks, it is always clean, every barista knows me by name, etc. I have emailed both SBX and Kroger corporate in praise of these baristas. I understand the licensed stores buy merchandise from SBX, but the money is not coming out of your pocket so why so testy? I am a loyal every day customer. I spend over $100 every month. I simply want the same benefits that any other person gets when going to a corporate store. I live in a rural area, I have to drive 15 miles to get to the closest licensed store, yes, I drive it every day! I was given a Gold Card but I cannot use it, I have a registered card but I can only use it as a gift card for payment. The closest corporate store to me is 2 hours away in another state. I live in Southern Illinois, the closest corporate store is in Paducah Kentucky, or St Louis Missouri! I am not asking for anything that other customers who have access to corporate stores are getting. I don't want coffee from McDonald's, it is not as good as SBX.

I am simply asking SBX to create software and change their licensing agreement so that licensed stores honor the benefits of the cards so that I am treated like any other SBX customer.

12/21/2009 2:45 PM

I work for a Licensed Store inside a Safeway. We might not take the discount off registered cards but we do take 10% off Gold cards.

I read up on everything that has to do with coffee, wether its Starbucks or not. And I have to say that I am deeply disappointed with my visits to free standing stores. You don't have to take my word for it, just read reviews. To bash on Licensed Stores is absurd. I make drinks exactly how they are supposed to be made and receive no complains from many everyday regulars and visitors. I know about coffee blends more than most Partners.

Truth is since there are so many Starbucks sometimes its hard to provide good training for every Starbucks, wether its company-operated or licensed. And as for taking registered cards, I've heard its the licensees decision. Same reason we do not sale gift cards anymore, yet can reload them. It is at no gain to us. Its business.

12/28/2009 10:08 AM

I am in the military and have traveled extensively this year.  I know of at least 15 major airports that do not honor the 10% off Gold Rewards card.  The numerous Targets that I have been to do not honor it along with the many hotels that SB's are in.  The only military base that I found that honored the Gold Rewards card is USMC base Quantico, VA.  Neither the Air Force or Army bases that I have visited honor the discount.  While I have investigated this, I have been told it is at the stores discretion aka Target, MGM Grand/Vegas and at the military bases option to include it or not...go fig?!

3/2/2010 5:40 PM

let me just start out by saying that i manage a licensed store (in a safeway), and am very proud to do so. i have been through countless hours of training and classes, and am constantly overseen by my district manager, who also likes to bring in some of her bosses. i can't speak for every licensee, but my store is held to very strict SBUX standards.

i think what kerry meant by "very few occasions" was, yes, licesees are hindered by the MyStarbucksRewards programs at the moment. but there are many other things that licensees participate in, the same as a company operated store. such as promotions, coupons, brewed coffees being served. i have worked in my starbucks for almost seven years, and (until these registered card issues) have never had a problem keeping on par with the two company operated stores that surround us.

i think some of the confusion/frustration might also come from not learning which stores are which...

*company operated stores- obviously, the big store that stand alone

*licensed store- starbucks inside safeways, albertson's, qfc's, that kind of thing

*there are other place (like barnes&noble), that are simply a cafe that SERVES starbucks coffee. they have their own drinks, parsties, promotion, and do not participate in any of starbucks promotions, or accept any coupons or gift cards for starbucks.

i hope some of this helps anyone out there. just remember that there are bumps in the road, and things that come up and need to be addressed in every business. everything takes time. be patient, and enjoy your coffee. :)

7/27/2010 2:38 AM

Dear Kerry,

How can I become a licensee to open a licensed store? Whom should I contact to? Is it possible to open a licensed store in a country, where Starbucks does not operate?

Thanks in advance!

8/17/2010 6:51 AM

In almost all of the "My Starbucks Idea" forums the comments have gotten a bit out of hand. Hello people... we are registered and your IP addresses are being recorded. Most forums have asked for more moderation by Starbucks or an outside third party. Note to wootsauce: if you are for real, and actually a Starbucks licensee as opposed to just inciting others to reactionary commenting by posing as a licensee, I have to question whether dealing with the public in a business is a positive thing in life for you. I mean... seriously...

11/6/2010 6:39 PM

i can't find anyplace to suggest a location, which puzzles me, but anyway, the HIngham Shipyard in Hingham, MA could really use a Starbucks. Not only is it a shopping destination but a commuter location for the boats into Boston. What better place for a Starbucks? Yes there is one down Rte. 3A, but is on the wrong side of the street for drivers coming up 3A and does not have a drive-thru. A location with outside tables is a must for the summer at the Shipyard!!

12/5/2011 1:08 PM

Look, if it has our name on it - you should kind of make sure that they all operate the same... you know- it works better that way. Customers get what they want (their coffee drinks AND their rewards just like you promised when you made the program...) Otherwise - there is not really a point (and the customers go somewhere else).

You provide PART of the experience by granting the license - and I have to say these stores pay you considerable cash for the ability to make $$$ because of your name - dont you think you OWE it to the people making your bottom line possible to provide them with the REAL seamless service/experience and make these licensees pay for the software to give us access to our rewards??   come on, it is NOT rocket science here folks

FWIW -- MARINA TARGET STORE Marina CA 93933 does NOT provide SEAMLESS EXPERIENCE. (They actually went so far as to blame Starbucks for this situation... nice that they get to pass the buck, isnt it?)

Elvin Aliyev
3/4/2012 1:47 PM

Hi there,

My question is, how licensing works for foreign countries. Does your pricing take into account the differences in purchasing power of other countries currencies. How do you send the inventory and equipment oversees, and if the Profits are not so good, if there is a cost effective exit strategy for licensee?



Elvin Aliyev
3/4/2012 1:47 PM

Hi there,

My question is, how licensing works for foreign countries. Does your pricing take into account the differences in purchasing power of other countries currencies. How do you send the inventory and equipment oversees, and if the Profits are not so good, if there is a cost effective exit strategy for licensee?



3/6/2012 7:00 PM


4/13/2012 1:59 PM

Honestly I do not like the 3 licensed stores I have been too but its mainly because they are pretty badly run, and I can honestly say that because I worked next to one of them and watched the behind the scenes (NOT SAYING EVERY SINGLE ONE IS THE SAME!!! just that this one was kinda...awful and gross) I felt bad for the people who worked at it because the managers were mean and a lot of times it would be one cashier taking on a line of people out the door because the other cashier disappeared. The store was dirty (honestly the whole building was dirty but what can you say for a visitors center in the middle of 95?) The other two are on campus here and they do not take the cards (not that i care I just usually pay with one) and the people are kinda mean and cannot really make a good cup of coffee to save their lives. I have been to the 2 licensed stores on campus and to one corporate store right off of campus. I tried the same drink at everyone one. idk if its the worker who made the coffee or the machine but it is always soooo strong it might as well be used for burning a hole. and its just regular coffee. So I am not being rude to ANY other licensed stores! Because there are some pretty good ones I have been to! Just the 3 licensed stores I have around me the most suck bum.


(p.s. they don't have the signs for the cards either. I have checked...a lot.) :)

10/16/2012 2:14 PM

I just want to mention that I go to Starbucks every morning. Every single morning - and get my signature drink.  I went to my local Starbucks for years, but since I have a rather long commute, I decided to start going somewhere closer to my work so that I can enjoy my beverage once I'm in my office.

Enter the Albertsons grocery store right across the street from my office.  I decided to give their Starbucks a try and to my amazement, my signature drink tasted better than the one I used to get at my local neighborhood Starbucks.

To this day, if I get a Starbucks on the weekend at my local neighborhood store, it's never as good as the one that the Albertsons store makes me during the week.

My niece also commented to me that she goes to an Albertsons Starbucks sometimes when she visits the coast and they make her signature drink better!

Why is that?  There is a very distinctive difference in taste that I can't describe, but I rarely go to any stand along Starbucks now when I'm not near the Albertsons Starbucks that I go to during the week.  They are just better!

Anyone have any comments about that??

10/16/2012 2:30 PM

And, by the way, the Albertsons that I visit daily does accept the gold card and I get all the discounts due me...etc.

Wootsauce is/was a barista, but certainly not the cheery barista attitude apparently.  If people's comments bug Wootsauce about what they get or don't get - especially if you work for ANY Starbucks - I think you need to find another line of business.  Whenever you deal with the public you are going to get complaints - one way or another - even about a measley 10%!  It's YOUR job to smile nicely and realize that to that person, 20 cents or 70 cents is a big deal.  Might not be to you, but it is to them. It's part of your job to listen and try to find a solution for that person so that they come back to your store. It's not your job to judge that person as to why they are making a few pennies such a big deal.

10/16/2012 5:53 PM

I've recently experienced a local licensee of Starbucks that I do not believe is actually serving the quality if a Starbucks product. Having been a regular customer for several years, I was so offended that I will not return to that licensee's store. Unfortunately, others are discovering the same with a similar response. Disturbingly, this taints the Starbucks brand excellence. What does Starbucks do to protect against such abuses by licensees?

1/21/2014 12:40 PM

Hi Kerry,

I went to a Starbucks yesterday in the new Graton casino which is near Santa Rosa, CA.  I think it was licensed.  Here's the difference in experience versus the regular full store location:

Graton casino (I assume licensed)

- Did not accept payment/rewards card

- Would not give my wife a free empty cup b/c we wanted

to share the grande coffee I ordered.  Said it would cost 54 cents.

- Line was long and slow.  One cashier and one Barista.

- Had only 1/2 and 1/2 out.  Had to ask (and interrupt) Barista to ask for it, and she insisted on pouring it herself.

- Gave overall impression of tightness

- Coffee was good.

Full store we go to often

- Every negative thing above is not.

- Coffee is good

Please strenthen your brand and make the FULL experience of Starbucks exactly the same regardless of whether a location is a full store or licensed...barring unforseen circumstances like power outages, weather, etc, these are forgivable.  I belive in the long run, or even shorter run, your company and shareholders will make more profit if you do this.


Customer in Santa Rosa, CA

7/25/2014 12:20 PM

Well Kelly, I live in a tiny little town and have to drive 15 miles to a Starbucks that is inside a target store. They usually participate in most promos. Then there is the Starbucks inside a Barnes and noble that refuses anything but a cc or cash! Says a lot about which store will and will not participate. I have been refused when I wanted to use my Starbucks gift card before. I am not going to a different store because one won't accept a gift card etc. I will stick with dunkin donuts because they are all the same and all follow the same rules!!!!

1/18/2016 7:36 PM

Are licensed employees eligible for the CAP with ASU? If not, is this something Starbucks is working on? Thanks!!

3/16/2016 2:09 PM

i cant believe so many people have so much time to bitch about 10% discount and 1 free coffee every 12 maybe its a good thing if this is your biggest bitch in life.

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