The Shipping Container Starbucks store

On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, Starbucks opened their first store constructed out of shipping containers.  The store is located in Tukwila, Washington, at 10100 East Marginal Way, 206 – 762 – 3249 (Starbucks store number 15560).  It’s actually close to the intersection of Norfolk and East Marginal Way, which is not far from the Museum of Flight and the Boeing Access Road.  This would be a perfect stop for coffee either on your way to or coming from the Museum of Flight.

I had an absolutely fabulous visit to this store today (December 18, 2011).  The register barista (Sara) was full of sunshine and cheer on this gray day.  Sara was effusive about her new store, saying it opened on her birthday, so for her birthday she got a brand new store.  I also met Blake, Dawn and Eric, all who loved their new store.

I learned a number of interesting things about this store while I was there:  the roof of the store is designed with drains to catch rain water, which then is piped to irrigate the plants/vegetation immediately near the store.  Apparently the design of the store includes a concept that as a customer orders at the drive through, a video camera will create a face to face experience so that the customer will actually be able to see inside the store, and see the person taking his or her order.  It’s my understanding that this is not yet operational, and is still having all the kinks ironed out.  There is both a walk-up window and a drive through, and a spacious patio near the walk up window.

The drive through menu boards have some digital displays:

Even the store’s logo is made from a piece of shipping container:






I suspect that real estate is cheaper in this area than in most greater-Seattle areas, so it’s a good place to experiment with a novel store design.  Whether we will see more of these stores across the county remains to be seen.  I sort of see this as a limited experiment, a different kind of ‘green’ and ‘repurposed’ design.  Or at least that is what my gut tells me.

Hope you enjoy the photos – here are a few more pics:

Related Posts


  • kara86ster

    Wow, that is so cool! Its certainly a good way for Starbucks to further its environmental effort. Looks great too… =)

  • purple1

    Totally neat store and reminds me of your review of the store in Texas. I especially like the customer interaction through the drive through. What a neat idea once it gets worked out. I would think this kind of store would not open around here mostly because of real estate issues, but it sure would be nice to see. Also, really like seeing the spirit in the partners for their new store. Thanks Melody and happy holidays to you and happy new year!

  • Hayley

    That is really cool! I like how the designed the ends of the containers with a leaf and floral design to soften the ‘rough’ appearance of the containers.
    Did you get to go inside? Or is a drive through / walk up only store? I may have missed a sentence.

  • DadCooks

    Melody, did you try the big QR code that was on the side of one of the containers (more information on what you see:)? Unfortunately the picture is not good enough (also the angle) when enlarged for my QR App to read it. That QR code probably takes you to an informational web page.

    A novel use of containers and a good example of repurposing. Unfortunately, too many communities that claim to be progressive (NOT in the political sense) have codes and zoning that would not allow this; very shortsighted.

  • Melody

    @DadCooks – I’ve never bothered to install a QR app on my phone! It probably takes you to the Starbucks Shared Planet page, but I don’t know… This is such a perfect location for this. The area is industrial, and the design fits right in!

    @DadCooks – Yikes, I just went through and corrected some horrible grammar mistakes and typos. I had rushed this story yesterday.
    @Hayley – Just a walk up and drive through, no way for customers to go inside. There is a bathroom for customers (exterior entrance) though I didn’t go in it. It would have been super interesting to see if the interior looked in anyway like you’re standing in a shipping container. Perhaps if I had planned this better, I could have asked PR, or the DM, or the RD to escort me inside, though might be wishful thinking on my part.

  • Diele

    I can’t wait to see what happens with my store this year. It will be my 3rd remodel since I tend to like to jump shift after 9 months. Everyone in my district finds it hilarious and customers always tell me I am in the wrong store. Lol.

  • Hallie

    I think this is brilliant, and I love to see large businesses do this kind of thing. Upcycling makes me happy, turning something mundane into something super cool, like the main structure of a coffee shop. I am anxious to see how they set up a cafe store with shipping containers!

  • denise r

    wow…very interesting re-use. I just can’t wrap my mind around a drive-thru/walk-up only Sbux tho. and when I see the menu boards for the drive-thru…..they look so familiar…(to fast food chains:( I’m guessing they’ll do a fairly good business, even without the cafe.
    Thanx for the info and tour….

  • Becky E

    This is just great. Fits perfectly in an industrial park setting and would even make it more exciting to go to work in a somewhat bland setting. Having this kind of coffee shop at the front entrance would be very inviting. Some of the industrial parks around here are sad and pathetic but some of the newer ones are becoming more pleasant to view. We have one across from a small airport that is rather nice and I’d love to see this kind of Starbucks shop go in there. I’m sure all the employees in those businesses and people going to and from the airport would too!

  • Sebastian

    What a gorgeous store! What a great idea!

    I really love the innovation of Starbucks…there should be more companies like this out there.

  • Suzanne C

    This is just an amazingly, awesome store! I love it!!!!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Melody

    I am glad so many people like it. I think that there are parts of the design that can be illuminated – but I haven’t seen it lit up. If you look at the first pic, you can see that there is like a silhouette cut out up top, and think that can be illuminated somehow.
    Thank you to everyone who left a comment!

  • Anthony

    I really love the shipping container idea, and having been to that Museum of Flight, I know how much of an asset this store will be to that area. Also nice that they have a few tables out.

  • CD

    This is really cool – I like the portability aspect. I wonder if this concept is cost prohibitive. I’d like to see more of them.

  • LatteRose

    Very cool. Will have to make a trip down there to check it out.

  • CAbarista

    What an amazing concept!

  • Kaori

    This is such a fun, smart, and creative idea! It looks awesome 😀

  • Skooter McGoo

    Reminds me of the stories after the earthquake/fires in San Francisco in the early 1900’s, when they stacked rail cars on top of each other and side by side to make houses. Now that is a statement of using what we already have to further the future. Nicely done.

  • Eric

    Called the store and they said the adress is 10100 E. Marginal Way.

  • Melody

    @Eric – I know that address and I understood it to be the address while under construction. I am having a tough time finding this store in the Starbucks store locator. The receipts, at least on the day that I went, had the address on Norfolk. I might ask someone at the SSC to double check for me. Thank you for alerting me to the discrepency.

  • Taylor

    The only thing about this store that I’d change would be to add some more greenery. A few trees of some potted plants would be a joy outside by the tables. I love what they have done with the recycled materials!

  • Melody

    @DadCooks – It did seem like the official Starbucks blogs were really slow to get an article up on this store. It’s been open for over a month. I wonder what they were thinking?

  • DadCooks

    @Melody — they were waiting for a “slow news day” 😉

  • tam

    I love this idea! Bring this to San Francisco!!

  • Leslee

    I love this idea… I hope they have/will construct more of these, they are a great concept and highlights the ‘greener’ attitude of Starbucks. I came across a drive through only location the other day here in N. California near Roseville. Another unique idea and am curious to stop in and inquire about the traffic, or lack of they receive!

Leave a Comment


Join the mailing list to receive a weekly email with new posts: