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Starbucks alternatives courtesy of Delocator

Starbucks Delocator, a new project by artists collective, Finishing School has been launched.  It's an online interactive database that allows visitors to enter and pull comparative information on independently owned cafés and Starbucks.

It's easy to understand in a quick visit to the site, but basically you visit the site, enter your zip code, and the site does a search.  On the right side of the page displays all the Starbucks stores on the area.  On the left are local cafe's that visitors to the site have entered manually. Since the site was launched yesterday in San Francisco, the local cafe listings are popping up mainly in San Francisco (search 94110 to see) and Los Angeles.  However, as news spreads over the coming days and weeks, the database will grow and hopefully fill in around the United States.

An interesting note is that the Delocator web technology can be downloaded to create similar sites for other chains.  Industrious web geeks could create delocator databases for Wal-Mart, Home Depot, fast food chains, and on and on. 

Posted by Steve Lambert on 04/03/2005 | Permalink


This is a great idea, but they should have put "Starbucks" in the website name--ie: Starbucks Delocator (with a disclaimer on the site that it is in no way endorsed by Starbucks)--with a matching domain name, ie That way, when other sites link to it, it'd be much more likely to show up in Starbucks searches.

I assume they chose not to do that to avoid legal threats from Starbucks, but what's the point of doing a site like this if the intended audience doesn't see it?

Posted by: carrie | Apr 3, 2005 12:41:22 PM

Since the database is so thin (in NY, anyway) typing in a big Manhattan ZIP like 10010 just yields a list of Starbucks locations, which seems like precisely the opposite of what they're trying to do.

Posted by: Damian | Apr 3, 2005 1:40:15 PM

thanks steve for the plug! regarding the starbucks tags/branding, per our exhibition agreement we were unable use the word starbucks anywhere. their legal department would not ok the exhibition. the project's original title was "Starbucks Delocator."

regarding damians comment, get posting!


Posted by: finishing school | Apr 3, 2005 2:35:12 PM

Exhibit agreement with whom? Starbucks?!! Why on earth would you ask for their approval on such a project?

Posted by: carrie | Apr 3, 2005 3:14:10 PM

Finishing School and the Anti-Advertising Agency just opened a show at the Walter McBean Galleries at the San Francisco Art Institute. The gallery was were the Delocator project was launched on Friday. The exhibit agreement Finishing School is referring to was with SFAI.

I think word of this will spread. Remember, it was launched less than 48 hours ago (and we're already talking about it). Finishing School has planned multiple methods to get the word out.

Posted by: Steve Lambert | Apr 3, 2005 5:00:00 PM

well, I hope you guys got a lot of money or exposure from the gallery because that's a serious concession to make. You've basically agreed to sacrifice search engine traffic and market this to the percentage of the blogosphere that already avoids Starbucks.

I think it's great that the code is available for other people to rip off and make their own Delocator sites, though.

Posted by: carrie | Apr 3, 2005 6:47:15 PM

Finishing School, I think you miss my point: why list Starbucks in the first place?

Posted by: Damian | Apr 4, 2005 5:27:51 PM

hi damian,

sorry, misread your comment. we are showing starbucks info for contrast and develop an urgent need, here is an excerpt from the delocator esssay-

"On the results page for each search, listings of both independently owned cafés and Starbucks retail stores are presented. By comparison of numeric quantity and site-specific detail, the viewer/searcher will see evidence of the unchecked aggression and power that corporate businesses have in our communities."

Posted by: finishing school | Apr 4, 2005 9:36:10 PM

I'm glad for nice helpful site and I like the intent of the site but I am going to be the grump for this once. The site design is the problem. I may just go back to Starbucks for a breath of user-consideration air.

The starting page announced that it was a popup page and that I should set my browser to allow popups. HELLO????? Pardon ME! But I went through hell with popups until I started running various popup protectors several years ago and now finally, Firefox. No, I won't allow popups.

Why would you ask that of me anyway? Just for you? What about all the other sites your requirement would leave me open to? It is moare than annoying. It is a security risk and I've been down too many worms and viruses on my service provider, in offices I've worked in and etcetera to have any patient left with this.

This may seem small to you but I've spent numerous all night and all day and all night sessions with my face buried in servers with a company down and out of biz waiting for me to fix it because some company employee got careless, sometimes with IM and sometimes with P2P and sometimes just clicking where they shouldn't. Maybe you don't get the firing line experience but I sure as heck do. There is still a largely hidden war going on out there on the web. I say hidden because it seldom hits the headlines.

The first page has a link, barely visible (the underlines for links are killed in the style) that you can click to go to another page.

This second page took a seemingly endless amount of time to download. My modem dialed in at less than 56kb, and no, everyone does not have a T-1 line. My ISP dials me in at any number of strange speeds. If you are a developer you should be using the speed your customers are using (usually a lower speed). That way you feel the pain first. Your customer should not have to feel the pain. I learned that the hard way - for web work and for executables, as I learned on a CADD graphics convertor I wrote in the mid 90's.

I would suspect that this is a graphics-for-printed-page designer and not a web designer working for usability. The word design doesn't just mean graphics. You have to respect the limits and means of the technology and of your customers. You have to design for the tech as well.

This second page was mainly just a sliced picture, done probably in Photoshop, with a total size of nearly 600kb - roughly 15 to 20 times what a page weight should be. These are the picture sizes (from Firefox's page info):
119.53 kb
1.43 kb
12.3 kb
3.99 kb
14.12 kb
248 kb
186.43 kb
585.80 kb - media (jpeg's)
3.78 kb - text
589.58 kb - overall

When I come to a page I want that page to respect my time as I hope I respect other's time. This is a show off page demonstrating personal graphics prowess rather than a page to provide services to a community. I still often enough get better information from the older 90's pages with text than from the newer pages with pictures which are supposed to look good but provide no informational nourishment.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 4, 2005 10:30:05 PM

Please be aware Starbucks is a "Blue" company. I would rather buy from them than my local coffee shop owned by a Republican thug. Local support does not always mean my money will go to causes I believe in - it helps to know the owners of the local businesses.

Posted by: lynn | Apr 5, 2005 7:50:23 PM

Mike, many of your comments are valid, but you can allow popups for a given site only in Mozilla.

Posted by: Jay Stephens | Jun 17, 2005 12:17:18 AM

I really want to get a hold of these folks.
I think I can help them get the word out even more. And I have a database full of folks that are into coffee, and all things indie!

Posted by: Matt | Oct 12, 2005 11:36:39 PM

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