If you are craving some coffee in Penn’s campus area, you need not look very far.
There are five different Starbucks locations near campus where you can get your skinny soy caramel macchiato: at the intersections of 34th and Walnut, 34th and Chestnut, under Class of 1920 Commons, in the Penn Bookstore and now at 39th and Walnut streets.
Specifically for the newest Starbucks nearby at 3901 Walnut Street, which opened earlier this year, Facilities and Real Estate Services was looking for a cafe that could provide coffee, cold drinks and light food but also has a small kitchen. Most importantly, Penn wanted the operator to have a larger gathering area.
“We look at the demographic to bring what we believe will be additive to the experience to everyone involved,” Executive Director of Penn Real Estate in Facilities and Real Estates Services Ed Datz said.
The Seattle-based coffee chain has expanded dramatically, increasing from around seven thousand stores in 2003 to more than 23 thousand in 2015. As of 2016, the United States, with 13,327 locations, had the largest number of Starbucks stores in the world.
Even with the large amount of Starbucks around Penn’s campus, Temple University history professor Bryant Simon said that in a college town, there is a large enough market of college students dependent on coffee shops in multiple ways.
Starbucks trademarks itself on predictability and Simon says there will always be a strong demand for convenient coffee and Starbucks’ brand is strong enough to attract people regardless of their hometown.
And given the frequency of Starbucks locations, no student has to walk far to get their favorite caffeinated beverage.
“Opening locations in high traffic areas, they basically eliminate the possibility of competition. This is the essence of capitalism. It’s about demand but also about being able to manage the demand,” Simon said.
Datz said there is a strong demand for coffee on college campuses in areas that double as study spaces, like the Starbucks under Commons.
“I think there is an even stronger demand for having casual seating, the ability to socialize in the space and work in the space with Wi-Fi. The casual environment is just as important as what they sell,” Datz said.
Penn has always tried to have a mixture of entrepreneurial operators with the regional and national chains, Datz added.
As Penn continuously redevelops in West Philadelphia, Urban Studies professor Elaine Simon says that rents become high enough that entrepreneurial businesses and stores cannot operate. Simon suggests that Penn could subsidize entrepreneurial businesses to acquire a variety of businesses to reduce the commercial gentrification.
“Penn is an institution that exists in a larger environment that has mixed incomes and it’s racially and ethnically diverse as well,” Simon said. “What’s interesting and difficult is how to avoid creating an enclave or commercial gentrification, where businesses who have been serving the community for awhile get pushed out by businesses that serve higher income individuals.”
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.