Saturday, July 05, 2008

Taking the Mouse, Leaving the Bean Place

So... I'm a full time member of the Walt Disney World Company. The House of Mouse. By last Saturday night, maybe before Mikey's 30th birthday extravanganza, maybe after, I'm not sure, but sometime in there, I decided that I wanted to be a part of The Disney Store and the Disney Company. I'm sure its in no small part due to the little plastic card I get that allows me and The Lovely Steph Leann (and two of our closest friends) access to the World anytime. Alissa and Joey, you are on our list for next spring, after the wedding.

By Sunday, I was at peace with it. There's some turnover issues at The Disney Store, and I get the sense there's a morale or unstability issue. There was at Cahaba Heights when I went there in March of 2007... let's just say leadership there was... off. And if you are the leadership I speak of at that time, and you reading this, going nuts on me for cleaning the desk is not the way to get a favorable response on The Clouds in My Coffee Blog, read by dozens of people across this great land of ours.

Anyway, I like to think that in six months, I had helped put that team together--that team that included Peter, Chris, Katie, Greer, Tracy, Kelly, Buttahs and more--and that team rocked. I have a knack for hiring, somehow.

The fact that I'm going to get to help do the same thing at The Happiest Place in the Mall... well, thats a challenge I look forward to facing. Then a series of events happened this week, one after the other, that made me go, "Well, hey now... God might just have an idea what up it is after all..."

Monday... called The Happiest Place in the Mall, and confirmed that yes, I would be accepting the position. I now planned to be the assistant manager for the store. I had also referred My Friend Stephanie, a different Stephanie from The Lovely Steph Leann, mind you, to go apply for a job there. She applied at Target, and apparently, they have no idea whats going on... they hired her, and yet never called her, never scheduled her and told her nothing.

Tuesday... I had the evening off, and was set to put together some furniture bought at IKEA, with the help of Croyle. I was at Hallmark, shopping for a birthday card for Britlicious, the wife of said Croyle, when I get a call from another Starbucks manager. "Did you hear about the conference call?" Um... no. What conference call? "The one starting at 530..." We had one today at 3p, there is another one? "Yeah, this is being held by Special K, about store closings." (Now, she didn't say Special K, but thats what I like to call him. He's the regional director for Alabama, Mississippi and some of Georgia's Starbucks. Brilliant guy) Well, what time is it now? "Um... 512." Well, crap.

So I rush home to The Cabana, grab my phone, dial in, and hear the announcement that is currently all over the news and internet. Starbucks had already announced it would close 100 licensed stores--those are the stores that "Proudly Brew Starbucks Coffee" in Targets, Barnes & Nobles, airports, hospitals, etc--and just this instant, they were announcing the closings of 500 more stores--600 in all. Averaging 20 partners per store, there would be 12,000 positions eliminated, 12,000 partners that would either be transferred, displaced or leave the company.

Wednesday... I start answering questions to our team about the closings. "Are we on the list?" is the first question I get from everyone. The first 50 stores in the country would be closing by the end of July, but I hadn't gotten a call from our district manager to tell me our store would be one of them, so at least for now, we're safe. As a manager, I've got to do damage control, however, and make our partners and customers feel at ease. I leaned on Matt, one of our stars at the store, who I'd met with the previous night.

Thursday... My boss comes in at 9 to meet with me. Drops the news, news that didn't surprise me in the least, yet saddened me to a deep end. Our store, located at University and 20th Street, would be closing. Not now, not at the end of July, but sometime in the next 9 months. And with it, about 15 partners would be transferred to other stores, some of which will hopefully go on to be assistant managers, some of which will leave altogether. The sad part comes in when you know that many of these people have been together for a year or two, and its like a family split up. Like a foster home shutting down, sending its kids all over the place.

Bottom line is, Starbucks Coffee & Tea is fine, and will be fine. In 1999, Just For Feet was atop the world. They had just had one of the most buzzed about Super Bowl commercials in memory, and were opening franchises everywhere. Within 2 years, they collapsed amidst fraud and overexpansion. Krispy Kreme was also a media darling for a few years, but rapid expansion led to their stock price plummeting, and many franchises in the western states filed bankruptcy.

The closing of our store, plus three more stores in the city is a wise business decision. Starbucks voluntarily does it now, so they aren't forced to do it later. If I was at Cahaba Heights still, or Hwy 280, the University and 20th Store would be just another store I barely know, and I would just shrug, shake my head and say, "Too bad. But its the right choice." However comma I'm the manager of this particular Starbucks, and whether they like it or not, these are my partners, so instead I say, "This sucks. This really, really sucks. But its the right choice."

Just so you know, when you read the headlines that say, "Local Shops Run Big Coffee Giant Out", don't believe it, because crap isn't reliable. Lucy's Coffee and Tea, right around the corner from us, didn't run us out of business. O'Henry's, located in Homewood, didn't run the Soho store out of Soho. It was Starbucks stepping back, viewing their options and realizing that we have two stores that aren't quite pulling their weight, and don't seem as if they will be able to in the near future, regardless of team, manager, product or whatever. Be it a victim of circumstance, location or the terrible economy that we actually don't have, but the liberal media insists we do, there are some locations that just don't make sense. And Starbucks sees this.

Friday... I've submitted my resignation at Starbucks, stepping down as manager. I'll be taking on part time work as just a barista for a while at another Starbucks. No schedules, no deployment, no target reports, nothing to do but make lattes and talk to people, what I love to do the most.

I went by The Happiest Place in the Mall. The Lovely Steph Leann has already informed me that My Friend Stephanie has already been hired by the store, which I'm excited about. In the same manner it was great to have Lil Sister Ashley, a close BFF, working with me at University and 20th, it will be great to have a familiar, friendly face at The Happiest Place in the Mall.

Anyway, I gave my starting date as July 28th, even though I'll be picking up some shifts all along here and there, just to get acquainted with the store. I'm nervous about the new start, naturally, because who knows how they'll receive me? Even The Lovely Steph Leann admits sometimes that upon first impression, I can come off as kind of a flake. But thats okay. I'm there to see Mickey, help make Magical Moments and basically be happy... which I can do fairly well.

I came up with a list, my favorite eleven people to work with at Starbucks, spanning three stores--Vestavia, Hwy 280 and Cahaba Heights... I left off University and 20th just because if Jess or Carla or whoever reads this blog, how do I look at one and tell them they didn't make it? My list, in no particular order... Susie Franks/Weetman (Vestavia), Luna (Vestavia), Hannah (Vestavia), Megan (Vestavia) Joey Towey (Vestavia), Nall Wall (280), Rocky (280) Tiffany Alexander (Cahaba), Kelly (280 & Cahaba), Amanda (280 & Cahaba) and Schottsy (Cahaba). I'm sure another name will come up later that I'll wish I had added... Kat, maybe, or Karen, or Theresa, who knows.

Well, there's your answer. I made the decision to step away. Four days later, I find out my store will close. I would have been fine as a manager, I would have just been moved... but to who knows where, and who knows how long I might have had to share a store. Remember my blog, back on June 12th? The Virtues of Summer's weekly challenge was to take each of the fruits of the spirit, and spend a week practicing them. Love was the first week. I had to find my Joy in Him during all the chaos of job decisions. This week? Peace. Peace with my decision, peace with what's happening.

Next week? Patience. Crap.


  1. Of course I don't mind the link. I'm honored. Thanks! Yours is a great read - very insightful and entertaining. Have fun with the Mouse!! - and add me to your list of people wanting free tickets to the park :) (hhc)

  2. wow! leaving the 'Bucks! I really hate that they are closing the Univ store! thats the closest one to campus when i'm in classes at ol' UAB! Boo! (but i get their
    just found your blog, BTW.. :)
    good luck at Disney!


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