Featured Clover Starbucks – 12th and Columbia in Seattle

Time for another store review! I decided to stop by the Starbucks on the corner of the 12th Avenue and Columbia, which is located near Seattle University in Seattle.  It added a Clover brewer last year (I think it was in the spring of 2011) and got its major remodel at about the same time as the major remodel.  The store first opened brand new on July 29, 2000.

I really had a great time visiting this store.  I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in, but it was a perfect visit.  I walked in and saw the store’s new design, and fell in love with the big clock on the wall.  I got some free brewed coffee in my special tumbler, and a slice of the lemon loaf.  I wasn’t in the store very long and I heard my name being called.  I recognized the voice immediately:  Tracy.  I’ve known Tracy, who is this store’s ASM, for going on five years.  She is a great partner.  I am not saying that having just met her once, but rather, I have been walking in and out of her stores for years.

When I first met Tracy she was a newer partner at the Pioneer Square Starbucks.  I recall asking the partners there, ‘Who coordinates the local art on display?‘ because I noticed that that store consistently did a great job of finding great local art.  As I recall, I was told, ‘Oh Tracy coordinates all that.‘  And that is how I met Tracy.  I think that was early 2008, or perhaps 2007.  From the Pioneer Square Starbucks, Tracy transferred to the International District Starbucks as a shift supervisor.  At that store, she continued the tradition of finding local art for the walls.  And now she is an Assistant Store Manager at this 12th and Columbia Starbucks.  She is awesome.  She is always knowledgeable and friendly, and she will be a great store manager some day.  We caught up for a few minutes, and I asked her how she liked this new store.  As it turns out, she says that this store has a surge of customers when school is in session, but when Seattle University is out on break, the store slows down dramatically.  She loves the store, and says the Clover does well.  This Starbucks visit was perfect.  By the way, Tracy is already very aware of the current Starbucks photography policy, so taking the photos for this blog article was not a problem at all.

The large clock on the wall was a design feature primarily considering that students are very often constantly thinking about getting to class.  There is one large community table in a corner adjacent to the Clover area.  I assume that table is a hot commodity for groups of students that meet here to study.

If you want to visit, here is the address:

12th & Columbia Starbucks (Store #3324)
800 – 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 329 8028

Enjoy the photos!



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  • purple1

    I love the clock! Interesting about having a clock on the customer floor part of the store because a while back I asked why there is not a clock in the store and they told me it is the policy of SB to not have a clock on the customer part of the store. I think it is a great idea. Melody, another wonderful store review and I enjoy reading about passionate partners.

  • denise r

    thanx for another trip Melody! I know that’s the only clock (via this photo) I’ve ever seen in a Sbux…and it makes sense in a college setting. Otherwise, generally, no clocks when a business wants you to lose track of time, etc.
    I like especially the “STARB……” letters over the dooe on the outside that you see from inside.

  • Cd

    Like Denise I like the sign that shows through the door but I think my favorite part is not actually the clock but the intention of the clock – mindful of the student (customer) need to keep track of time. Very cool.

  • DadCooks

    Now don’t anybody faint, but the eternal curmudgeon (me 😉 ) really likes this store.

    The designer hit the right balance of sizzle and steak. No matter that this store caters to students and therefore presents a good arrangement/selection of table, chairs, and functional atmosphere. This store really makes sense, for once. I would go out of my way to make this store a regular stop. Only qualifier is the staff, but IMHO Seattle has the highest percentage of “Legendary Partners”.

    Melody, could you consider putting a Google Map insert in your store reviews to help folks get a reference where the store is located. (I’m getting lazy)

  • Melody

    @DadCooks – You add a lot of sauciness to the comments. 😉 I am glad you like this store. I actually have been working on a store review for a much larger, or more prominent Starbucks, but this one stood out in its simplicity, yet how striking it is.

    As to legendary partners in Seattle, I think it might be true that there are a few more here. My theory why is of course because were so close to the HQ. Though there is more to it than that. One by-product of being so close to the HQ is that you are more likely to meet partners who say, ‘I want to work at the headquarters someday.’ Who knows if that will really happen, but when partners have that motivation and spark, it’s going to translate into legendary.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was out and about and decided to stop into the Rainier Starbucks near the Mt. Baker school, and I happened upon a partner whom I hadn’t seen in a while: Oki. I immediately remembered her. She always stuck in my head. I remembered that she had worked in a hotel near 4th and Seneca, and how she found the 4th and Seneca Starbucks, and found the beginning of her career there … and then at my store she met another partner (Michael) and fell in love, and the two of them married about a year ago now. When I saw her she was beaming, and the two are now expecting their first baby. It was so great to catch up. Apparently Michael is now at sodo 8 Starbucks. I ask partners all the time, ‘what are you going to do?’ – And so often I hear that Starbucks is a career, not a job. Oki though wants to raise a family, and Michael wants to find a position of some kind in the SSC. It’s just another example of that. I know that there are legendary partners everywhere, but I think Seattle has a slightly higher percentage of them, and that is due to location, and other reasons. Oki IS legendary by the way. I adore her. She will be a great mom! And somehow I’ve run into her many times. When Roy Street was new, she dropped by to check it out, and I was there one day doing the same thing …

    Another advantage of being close to the HQ is all the contact a store may have. You know I realize that many big businesses do a ‘holiday helper’ thing. Eddie Bauer did this – Corporate EB partners go work a shift in the stores now and then to help during the holiday season. Starbucks does this too. Over the years, I have seen many many SSC partners cleaning, sampling, and working in the stores as their ‘holiday helper’ shift. I think it should be required of everyone at the SSC. (or at least nearly everyone). But it is such great exposure to the HQ. I remember working at EB, and having a holiday helper who worked on a team that does promos, and it was fascinating to talk to someone who thinks up the promos….

    And then lastly, I think that this area has great leadership. When I talk to SMs, I genuinely hear SMs say that they like their DMs. There doesn’t seem to be the infectious problem of lazy DMs, or distant DMs, that you hear about in other Starbucks sites. And there is no doubt, that the RD is well-loved, and well-respected. I have heard SOOO many positive stories about our RD. He is no stranger to our stores either. Last week one day I ate my lunch at the Columbia Tower Starbucks, and then I had to leave (back to work), and later in the afternoon, I was back and a partner said that I just missed the RD by about 20 minutes, and he was with a couple of DMs. It just makes all the difference in the world. I used to know the RVP fairly well, but not anymore. I don’t think he is in the stores much. ?? Or at least not in my stores.

    About the google map idea … Hadn’t thought of that. Not sure I know how to do that, but I will definitely look into it.

  • purple1

    Melody I absolutely appreciate your detailed last comment. I can’t think of a better answer to why partners are the way they are and way they have such passion in Seattle. I really wish the passion you find in Seattle would be everywhere, but unfortunately that is not the case. There are some partners that shine at my local SB, but I am never sure they are interested in moving up. I am not sure how many administrative/program people are in the regional/DM offices near here or for that matter how many nonstore offices there are. When I get a chance to chat with partners, so many of them are going to school or training for something else. BTW the story of Oki and Michael is so nice to hear.

  • blakeco123

    Im glad to see there expanding on the clover concept, I just wonder when one will hit my area. Just a question, how many Starbucks stores are in seattle?

  • DadCooks

    @Melody — here is a link on how to insert a Google Map into WordPress.

    Too bad Starbucks is not developing a culture of career orientation in their stores outside of Seattle. I really get a bit bent out of shape when I am confronted with an attitude that Starbucks is not a place to have a career. Now a career is not being a barista forever, it is learning and developing to move through the local, district, regional, HQ ranks.

    I would bet real money that most DMs and RMs (or is it RD?) would freeze like a deer in headlights if they had to do a real shift in a store. It is one thing to “know the book” and entirely another to be able to “work the book”. With the current situation in my local store, the DM should be helping out on the line so new people can be brought in a trained, but she is only concerned with shelf and basket arrangement.

  • David

    Store 331 Southcenter in Tukwilla has a Starbucks logo clock from when the store was built in 1990.

  • Melody

    @DadCooks – This is an interesting conversation we’re having. I feel a little reluctant to write much about other people on this site, but I don’t think most Seattle DMs are reading this anyways. 😛 LOL. In any case, the Starbucks chain of command (above the stores) goes something like this — District Manager, Regional Director, Regional Vice President, (RVP of PNW is Frank Sica), Divisional President (the West Division executive is Clarice Turner, I think. I believe she’s had that position for a very long time, though I really don’t know her. I think I’ve met her only once.). After that it is Cliff Burrows, President of the Americas, and then Howard.

    I think I know every Seattle DM, though some know me much better than others. I live in the zipcode for the store’s in Geoff P.’s district, and work in Deepa’s district, so those are the two DMs that see me the most often, by a very long shot. Other DMs are Jodi, Paully, Paul M., Janeen, and Coulter. Anyways, some of those folks were promoted right out the stores, and I suspect that they’d be fine if they actually had to work a shift. The RD has been with the company for a gazillion years – since the 1990s I think – And started a barista. Starbucks needs to clone him.

    It IS critical that Starbucks hire from their stores so that at every point, people know what the store partners are going through. In my book, “Help a customer” comes before “shelf and basket arrangement.”

    And this is one area where I do believe that Starbucks needs improvement. Hiring from the stores: I know many a partner who want to work in the SSC. I know one 8-year partner who has applied many many times, and has just about given up. He says he has gotten down to rounds of interviews, and can’t quite make it. I would almost say that the SSC is reluctant to hire from the stores, and should NOT be that way. I know that many partners would argue with me, but the number of people going from the stores has really slowed down in the past few years. The only partners I know who have been promoted in the past two years from stores to the SSC have come from ‘high profile’ stores, where SSC folks are constantly coming through and so they can make contacts. And the problem is that if Starbucks doesn’t nurture leadership from SMs to higher positions, those great store managers will eventually just burn out and leave.

    But this is way too long of a blog comment, and I’ve got to get going, but I have a lot of confidence in the DMs and the RD here in Seattle. And at least 3 or 4 of them would not freeze if they had to work a shift- They came directly from stores. Some I know better than others. In Geoff’s district, he’s known for doing store contests where the winning store gets HIM to do a deep cleaning task! LOL. He definitely gives to his stores!

    I’m so far off topic. Probably will regret this comment … LOL.

  • Chgo.

    I’m jealous! I think we could use a lot more Clover stores here in the Chicagoland area. Just put up 4 walls and a Clover anywhere here in Chicago and it’s Suburbs, and they will come. Although the aesthetics of any store is always nice, I would gladly give that all up just to have more Clovers available here. I guess I should have moved to Seattle. It was always on the top of my list if I were ever to venture to the west coast.

  • denise r

    @Chgo: totally agree with you about the Clovers here.. totally.

  • denise r

    here’s totally off this topic and I’m sorry but I have to say this somewhere. WHAT IS GOING ON @ MSI RIGHT NOW IS INSANE!!!!! The continually allowed offensive remarks, attacks etc……. seriously???? Is NO ONE from Sbux able to stop this?? It worsens by the minute, literally.

    I put this here in the HOPE that someone from Sbux corp. does something about it. :(

  • adel

    I like the design of the wall clock, but does it keep the right time?

  • Chgo.

    @denise – An Idle mind is the devils workshop.

  • Adel

    More persons live in Seattle because of Starbucks than any place else in the world. it is well known there, that the capital of Seattle is Starbucks. Lastly, the density of Starbucks stores in Seattle is higher than any place else in the world, yet customers still have to wait in line to get served longer than any place else.

  • Melody

    @Adel – I am amazed you think that. Seattle really has fast speed of service, and this is because of we have a lot of stores for the size of our population, I think. I mean I think there are like 120 company-operated stores in Seattle (that’s just a wild guess), and we’re at a half a million people. And NYC is like probably close to 200 company-operated stores, but a population of a gazillion.

    If you go to 1912 Pike Place, or the Starbucks at 328 15th Avenue East in Seattle, the speed of service drops noticeably slower than any other Starbucks around – But that is because those two stores have manual machines. You’re waiting on hand-tamped espresso.

  • Melody

    @Denise – Lately, I look at MSI and I feel a little dazed. It needs 24/7 moderation and it is never going to get that. I have decided that when a website, a blog, or a forum reaches a level of a certain size, it can quickly turn nasty. Somehow too many people cannot share one sandbox. I’m stunned at how many people write in this tone of voice that if they’re mean to others, it will make their point sound stronger? Uh no. I don’t think ANY reply should ever start out with “You’re a real piece of work” because we can all read that tone of voice… In any case, it looks like at some point today a number of the threads were edited, but it appears that only certain comments were removed, so now it’s like they’re missing half their conversations. Again, I just find myself in a daze at MSI, and I walk a narrow path, just answering a few ideas that are interesting, and trying to wear blinders for everything else…. I don’t think anything will be done. It’s not going to change. People are always given another chance to come back again under a new ID, which actually then makes identifying a problem even harder than before.

  • Leanne

    This was really my “local” store for a couple of months but I now live in the North of England. I really enjoyed that review and the picture of the clock really brought back some memories!

  • purple1

    MSI was such a good idea when it started. As you Melody and others have said it is such a same that the initial intention of this blog has gone haywire. I do not even go there anymore.

  • denise r

    (@Melody: I did notice that some really nasty comments had been deleted from some threads….msi… but as you said, w/out explanation and then the rest of the whole things sounds crazy. I cannot understand why when something like that happens…a few deletes, no explanation….a mod. does not at LEAST address the person whose comments are being removed. I assume they ..Sbux..have just given it all up. too bad.)

  • Melody

    ((Denise, I am sort of at a place where I just realize NOTHING is going to change at MSI. And definitely over the past one to two years, the more hours I pour into this blog, the fewer I have left for anything else anyways. I can definitely see that. MSI cleans posts up by removing very tiny bits and pieces that were offending, much like going through a chapter of a book, and erasing sentences here and there. My contention is that it makes understanding what happened difficult because it’s like reading a story with missing sentences. You see responses and no longer really know why they answered like they did. It’s not my site, and that’s not the way I would moderate, but there’s nothing can do. All I can do is look for topics that interest me, try to be helpful, and when time permits, engage conversations of any friendly and non-mean spirited folks. That’s it.))

  • Chgo.

    @Denise & Melody…. When I commented: “@denise – An Idle mind is the devils workshop.” There was actually more that I started to say and decided to delete the rest and keep it simple for the sake of respecting your blog. But after reading both your comments, you know I have a big mouth. It’s one person in particular who is the biggest problem. This person changes names like folks change their socks. Don’t be surprised if this person also is the face behind the names of people that appear less suspicious to lure others into an argument.

    Actually Denise, I got a good laugh out of that one thread in particular from Friday, where that one person speaks of you once having a different name at msi. How many names does he have in any given month? Or a year? That person has entirely too much time with little to do. Like I said. An Idle mind………….. Yes I apologize for keeping this OT here. I think it’s time Starbucks pulls the plug at msi, but that’s just my opinion.

  • Melody

    @Chgo – I agree with you up to your very last sentence. Well, I know that MSI isn’t doing much of any good to Starbucks anymore, but it’s hard for me to say or admit that…With some minor changes, it could shine again. And that one person is not recognized as a problem. He IS allowed to return, and he is ALWAYS given another chance, but then it just makes it super hard to figure out what’s going on that site if you don’t know the background story. A newcomer can’t see that 60 IDs in the past 4 years are actually just one person. And that’s can’t be far from the truth either. It could be that he has had 100 different names. Years and years of this…

  • Kaori

    I never really noticed but like purple1 said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clock inside a Starbucks store before. That’s really considerate of them to put it up for the students that stop by the store! I absolutely love the black and white photos on the walls too. They are my favorite type of photos 😀

  • adel

    @ Melody. I was not implying that Starbucks has slow service in Seattle. I was observing thatthw people in that city support its favorite coffee chain so much that its a major line former throughout the city. I should know because I visited Seattle last summer and stayed almost a week with my inlaws who showed me how people in Seattle support Starbucks and demonstrate it with limes.

  • Melody

    Adel, I owe you an apology. I misunderstood you then. And I can think of a handful of Starbucks in Seattle that have poor speed of service for one reason of another. And on another topic, you are right, when I visited this store the clock was broken, but I was assured that it will be fixed soon…

  • Chris W.

    Melody, this post reminded me of a store I managed years ago (now closed). It was right across the street from San Diego State University, and had no parking. Almost all our business was from the adjacent student dorms, and University people who would walk to the store over the pedestrian footbridge from campus. During weekdays we were basically busy for only 20 minutes every hour, then everyone would dash off to class. Like this store, our study table was a hot commodity, we had to ask customers to share all the time. We, too had a clock on the wall, the only store I can remember with one.
    Unfortunately for that store long after I left, there were two licensed stores added on campus, both of which accepted the University’s meal plan card for payment, so that pretty much killed the business at that store.

  • Melody

    @Chris@ – Your story is a little sad – Sorry to hear that the licensed stores cannibalized the business of your store. This particular Starbucks is the only within a very very short walk of Seattle University, though there are some independent coffee houses around, but it’s in a great location in the sense that there’s not too much competition outside of campus-run cafeterias and coffee bars.

  • purple1

    I really would be curious as to how many other SB stores have clocks in them. I just have not seen any clocks at any stores around here and wonder when a store is being remodeled is SB considering including a clock or is it purely because this is a store near a university?

  • merryncole

    There is a licensed store at Eastern Kentucky University that has a really nice, long study table as well as two areas with chairs for sitting and chatting, a bar area with a few stools, and the usual small tables with two chairs. There are also some larger tables outside. It’s a really nice setup for students, but I wish the store had a big, prominent clock like the one in the picture!

  • DadCooks

    Clocks are very uncommon in any situation where the customer has to wait, it is a fundamental of design (you do not want the customer to know how much time they have spent waiting).

    Note how the clock in this store is at the customers’ back as they are in line.

    An even better location for the clock would have been on the triangular element that is hiding a column; one of the sides is only visible in the main seating area.

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