San Francisco-based La Boulange will be rolled into the giant's offerings
will want to standardize its offerings around the country, but a little bit sad, too.
Currently, Starbucks stores try to source their products locally. Or at least somewhat locally. It can be hard, especially for stores in smaller towns and exurbs, to find a company nearby that can satisfy the production demands of a string of Starbucks stores, day in and day out.
However there have been a lot of successes and this produces a lot of regional variation in the offerings which is welcome and novel. It also helps sustain smaller businesses, spreading the wealth around. And finally, it provides fresher baked goods to stores within range. For example, a lot of stores in the Seattle area carry baked goods from the Alki Bakery, which is both delicious and a local family-owned business. Not to mention the Top Pot doughnuts you can find at many Seattle-area Starbuckses. And I'm sure people all over the country have their own local favorites to be found in the Starbucks pastry case, as well.
It also means increased management costs, a lot of juggling, and (from what I have heard) some very complicated spreadsheets. And it's great if you are at a Starbucks close to a major metropolitan area, but stores out on the fringes can end up getting the short end of the stick, pastry-wise.
And so Starbucks has announced plans to buy a San Francisco-based bakery called La Boulange. This bakery will begin providing pastry to Starbucks stores all across the nation, presumably exactly the same stuff in each and every store. I am saddened at the loss of pastry diversity, but cautiously optimistic that it may bring some better stuff into the stores I often frequent.
At the same time, Starbucks is going to take the La Boulange chain national. This means even more options for people who are looking for a place to nosh a pastry while sucking up the (presumably) free wifi. La Boulange products may even end up in supermarkets some day, just as Starbucks coffee, Via packets, and K-Cups have.
The deal will be closing with La Boulange this fall, and La Boulange items will start being rolled out to Starbucks stores in early 2013.