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‘The little guy will prevail’: Students, local businesses share mixed feelings about new Starbucks on Ninth Street

<p>Since Starbucks debuted their pumpkin spice latte, the beverage has been a hallmark of the fall season nationwide.</p>

Since Starbucks debuted their pumpkin spice latte, the beverage has been a hallmark of the fall season nationwide.

Berry mocha in one hand, laptop in the other, sophomore Clara Harms sat in the lower basement of Triangle Coffee House. It was one of her favorite study spots, with soft lighting and kind baristas who always made her feel relaxed. 

Soon, a new Starbucks will open only a few doors down from the coffee house. The upcoming Ninth Street addition has generated mixed reactions among students and local businesses.  

A frequent user of local coffee shops, Harms felt that the new Starbucks on Ninth Street was “pointless,” given the Starbucks already present inside the Harris Teeter near the intersection of Ninth Street and Hillsborough Road. 

“I go to Triangle Coffee House a lot and I wouldn’t want their business to be jeopardized by the Starbucks opening,” Harms said.

Triangle Coffee House owner Jermaine Bantum said he is worried that the coffee house may lose business from students due to the new Starbucks, but he hopes that it will retain enough to stay competitive.

“It’s a little insane to think that they would open up directly next door to another local coffee shop,” Bantum said.

Bantum, however, feels that Triangle Coffee House is still able to provide something to the community that Starbucks cannot. He said that the coffee house has been a community stronghold for years and that the opening of the new Starbucks has strengthened the relationship between the coffee house and the community.

“Since the news broke, we’ve been getting a lot of support from students and locals in the community coming out to support in purchasing and do whatever it takes to make sure that we’ll stick around and Starbucks doesn’t put us out of business,” Bantum said. 

Some students feel that the new Starbucks will bring them to Ninth Street more often. 

Sophomore Sasamon Omoma said she had been craving Starbucks during her first year at Duke and felt excited for the opening. 

“Since I live on West, I haven’t really gone to Ninth Street much,” Omoma said. “But with the Starbucks being there, it would make me go to Ninth Street more and make the trip worthwhile.”

Nevertheless, Omoma also felt that having both a Starbucks inside Harris Teeter and on Ninth Street was unnecessary. 

Sophomore Laura Boyle says the new Starbucks would not change how frequently she goes to Ninth Street. 

“If I’m going to sit down somewhere and maybe do work, I’d probably pick a more local coffee shop rather than a Starbucks,” Boyle said. “I prefer local things just because I don’t want to come in here and change the town completely and put places out of business.”

Cloche Coffee owner Ashleigh Brooke Davis feels that the opening of the new Starbucks will not change much of Cloche’s relationship with students and the community. Cloche is located right off of East Campus on Broad Street.

“We live in a community where our residents value authenticity and sort of that local shop feel, so I think that the little guy will prevail,” Davis said. 

She also says she has no hard feelings against Starbucks and believes it will inspire the shop to “constantly raise the bar.”

“We have to do what we’re doing better than what they’re doing and that’s just business, right?” Davis said.

While Davis noted that incoming first-years may prefer a Starbucks over a local coffee house due to convenience, she said that Starbucks led her to fall in love with the local coffee scene in the first place and is hopeful that new students will experience this, too.

“They fall in love with coffee in a coffee culture and from there, they elevate their palate,” Davis said. “Instead of craving that vanilla latte that’s going to be the same no matter what Starbucks you go to, you’re going to want to come to a shop like Cloche or Triangle Coffee House or Cocoa Cinnamon where we do our vanilla a little differently and we make our syrups in house and we’ve got a different feel in the shop that inspires a little bit more creativity.”

Hence, Davis is hopeful that there’s space for local coffee shops and the new Starbucks.

“I think that it’s easy to get caught up in commercial versus local and be weary of something like that. But at the end of the day, our community takes care of each other, and I think if we’re all going into it with everyone’s best interests at heart that it’s all going to work out,” Davis said.


Ayra Charania

Ayra Charania is a Trinity sophomore and an associate news editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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