Earlier this week, we responded to a Facebook post that claimed a Starbucks trailer had set up a trailer just around the corner from the downtown location of the Pearl Cup Coffee shop. What's worse is they were giving the coffee away for free. Crystal Johnson, a manager for the local business, said the move had affected their business that morning.
Alisa Martinez, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, denies that the move was predatory. Martinez said the company carried out similar sampling campaigns in many other cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York City, here in Dallas and more. Besides, Martinez pointed out, they were only handing out 4-ounce samples (the cups were 8 ounces, but the workers leave room in the samples for plenty of cream and sugar), hardly enough for a diehard coffee drinker to defer on their regular morning cup of java.
Martinez said the coffee chain did not intend to take business away from any local businesses, adding that the trailer had visited five different locations in Dallas, each approved by the city. Still, similar allegations of predatory practices were levied against the company when they parked a massive trailer next to a small, outdoor coffee vendor on the streets on Manhattan.
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Doesn't the company have policies about setting up their marketing campaigns so close to independent coffee shops? Martinez said she didn't know if they had a policy and ended the interview to check. When she called back she told the Observer that while the marketing effort was no different than similar efforts that gives out free mints, gum or other products to potential customers, the Dallas team would look for different locations when marketing their coffee in the future, and no longer park near the Pearl Cup.