Starbucks to Begin Selling Booze Nationwide

Putting the "bar" in barista.
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Reuters

Starbucks just announced that it will be shifting from selling alcohol in a few select stores to unleashing it across the U.S. “We’ve tested it long enough in enough markets—this is a program that works,” CFO Troy Alstead told Bloomberg. As well as beer and wine (though not hard liquor), the chain will also offer a line of fancier snacks, including bacon-wrapped dates, truffle macaroni-and-cheese, and flatbreads.

It’s just the next stage in Starbucks’ goal of getting customers to swing by not only in the morning, but at all times of the day. When the chain shelled out $100 million for bakery La Boulange in 2012, CEO Howard Schultz explained to investors that “what La Boulange is providing us well beyond the morning pastries and the lunch is a significant platform to go after need states and day parts well into the future.” Alcohol, which Starbucks intends to sell in the evenings, will draw customers with yet another need state into yet another day part.

“Anything that you see happening here is driven by the question: what is the customer looking for?” Starbucks spokesperson Alisha Damodaran told Quartz. “When we think about new product offerings in the stores, we always think about what makes customers come through our doors.”

The offer-more-things strategy seems to be working. Starbucks now makes almost 50% more transactions per hour than it did only five years ago. Alcohol is currently being sold in 26 locations across the US, but it will spread to about 40 by the end of the year, and to over 1,000 stores nationwide “eventually,” according to Damodaran. She says the company intends “to remain predominantly a coffee store,” and that’s how people will see it—but it’s catering to many more needs states than caffeine these days.

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Roberto A. Ferdman is a reporter at Quartz, where he focuses on Latin American business and economics.

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