The world’s most famous coffee chain is moving into Forest Park. The Taxman Corporation has been given a ten-year lease in the Madison Commons to add a Starbucks to the new look Madison Street.
“We marketed to Starbucks because we felt they would be a good compliment to what Madison Street has done and where it plans to go,” said Tim Hague, an executive in charge of development opportunities for the Taxman Corporation.
Hague said that he aggressively pursued the world-renowned chain.
“They didn’t accept right away, so we had to do some convincing in getting them familiar with Forest Park, introducing all of the positive events and what the area has been doing to improve,” he said.
Hague is excited that Starbucks finally accepted saying that, “Starbucks does a nice job of setting up its stores and we feel that the residents will be very accepting of it once its doors open.”
The chain is bound to make an impression on Madison Street. In a Fortune Magazine article in 2003 Starbucks had a reported 20 million customers a week, a number that has done nothing but go up since then. The article also mentioned that a typical Starbucks customer would visit 18 times a month (probably every day on their way to work). At three dollars a drink, this will add a significant revenue increase to Forest Park and Madison Street.
Still, the Starbucks name comes with a reputation for overgrowth that has drawn opposition in the past.
An anti-Starbucks website, www.delocator.net, has people type in their zip codes to see how many Starbucks location there are in comparison to other coffee shops. When typing in the 60130 Forest Park zip code, the results came back with a staggering 124 (soon to be 125) Starbucks, compared to only 91 other individually owned coffee stores.
Even with its ever-growing number of Chicagoland locations, many business leaders expect Starbucks to draw new people into Forest Park.
“Because they are a destination it will bring people that may not have had an opportunity to discover Madison street and Forest Park. It will introduce them to other businesses that are here and they will come back,” said Art Jones, Executive Director of the Main Street Association.
Caffe de Lucca owner Art Sundry said that when a Starbucks opened near his other location in Bucktown, he “was not a happy camper.”
After seeing no negative effect on his business, however, he is excited to welcome Starbucks to Forest Park.
Still, he acknowledges that some may be concerned that the arrival of chains will detract from the home grown and individualistic atmosphere that makes Forest Park unique.
“In the end, the good independents prosper and thrive ” but some businesses will fear that when one (national chain) comes, more follow,” Sundry said.
Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone said that he is not concerned that Starbucks will affect Forest Park’s identity or harm its small businesses.
“Even though Starbucks is a chain, a lot of their facilities are on a small caliber as far as square footage, so it almost feels like just another entrepreneur,” he said.
“It’s going to bring additional consumers to the street. They may go to Starbucks for some coffee, but they’re not going to just stay there,” added Calderone.
Jones agreed, stating that Starbucks has a reputation for working to separate itself from the usual chain operation.
“Even though they’re a national they do get engaged in community and they do get involved,” he said.
Sundry said that a study by the National Association of Independent Coffee Retailers showed that independent coffee shops located within three blocks of a starbucks tend to see increases in business.
The director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, Laurie Kokenes, said she expects Starbucks to bring in its own new customers, rather than detracting from the loyal followings of other establishments.
“Each business is unique and has its own clientele, Starbucks will just bring in its own clients and add more business to the street.”
“The store will have great name recognition and once folks find out about its arrival and its location it will surely raise the retail on Madison,” Hague said.