For a look at some of the challenges facing Starbucks as it ‘scales down’ to the neighborhood level in its Capitol Hill experiments at the 15th Ave and Roy Street Coffee and Tea shops, meet Hill artist Megan Myers. The artist tells CHS that Starbucks has abruptly canceled her Roy Street exhibit just a week before it was supposed to begin due to conflicts between local staff and corporate management.
Next Saturday night, Myers was supposed to open a show of her work at Roy Street Coffee and Tea. It’s a show she says she has been preparing for and promoting since December.
“I had never been anti-starbucks or anything but I was surprised they would be able to feature local artists,” Myers told CHS.
Myers said it was shaping up to be a great opportunity for her and that the local Roy Street staff was looking forward to the first exhibit in the space. “They seemed excited to show a local artist and told me it was really meeting their mission.”
What Myers didn’t realize is she was a lab rat in the ‘inspired by Starbucks’ experiment. The Roy Street shop had featured a local artist before — but that had been a sculptor. Myers was the first 2-D artist to be lined up for an exhibit. As the date of Myers’ show approached, word of the opening made its way up the corporate chain.
On Friday, Myers said Roy Street staff and an apologetic but awkward phone call from Starbucks corporate told her the show was off.
“Once the designer found out that my art would be in with the other artist, he said no,” Myers said. “He didn’t think the aesthetics would go together”
Myers said she has been told the Starbucks designer working on Roy Street commissioned a mural for the store. When he found out that other work would be temporarily replacing the mural, and be shown around it, he demanded that the mural stay up, no other work be shown with it, and that if any other work were to be shown, Starbucks would need to commission the same artist to make more pieces.
Roy Street was forced to cancel the show.
We’ll follow up with Roy Street and Starbucks on Monday. In the meantime, Myers says she’s looking for another Hill venue to feature her work and isn’t sure what she’ll be doing next Saturday night when her Roy Street show was supposed to open.
The situation has, she says, made her reconsider her position on Starbucks and its two indie-styled Capitol Hill cafes. “The company is so large that somebody they didn’t think would have a problem with it, did. Usually, when you go into an independent coffee shop,” Myers said, “you’re dealing with the people who make the decisions.”
UPDATE 2/1/10 11:56 AM:
We have a phone call and e-mail out to Starbucks but haven’t yet heard back on this issue. Will let you know when we do.
UPDATE 2/2/10 12:30 PM:
Still no call or e-mail from Starbucks. We’ll keep trying.