Since 2009, the majority of Porchlight's branding has focused on the words "Coffee & Records": t-shirts, tote bags, cups, the interior of our shop, and even our logo features the words "Coffee & Records" in larger, bolder type than "Porchlight" itself.
A couple weeks ago, a friend texted me to let me know that Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which opened ten blocks from Porchlight in late 2014, started selling shirts that say "Coffee and Vinyl". While I didn't invent the phrase "Coffee & Records (vinyl, wax, LPs, etc)", it's still pretty comical and a little insulting. Porchlight opened in 2009 with a budget equal to the cost of car, specializing in independent vinyl--from indie and punk labels like No Idea, Jade Tree, and Asian Man Records to bigger indies like Sub Pop, Secretly Canadian and Matador. Despite our modest size and budget, our cafe has been featured in Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler, and AFAR to name a few. Our tote bags and t-shirts have been worn by some extremely talented and prominent folks around Seattle. On top of that, some Starbucks Reserve employees and higher-ups are actually customers of ours--so the possibility that the Coffee & Records/Coffee and Vinyl ripoff is a mere coincidence...pretty, pretty, prett-y small.
To their credit, Starbucks has lately been hiring some really incredible freelance artists, including some good friends of mine, to work on murals and other designs. I've also known a lot of great folks that have worked in their cafés and offices. One of those freelance artists reached out to Starbucks' art director so that I could get some sort of explanation, yet never received a response.
Opening and running an actual small business already has a never-ending supply of hurdles without a multibillion-dollar company down the street plucking our main branding/marketing idea, so hopefully they'll acknowledge it and maybe...perhaps...stop it?