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Starbucks feels the pinch.
It's official: Starbucks is closing 600 stores across the U.S. I find it absolutely fascinating, and lack the historical memory to think of an analogous situation. Simply put, Starbucks is polarizing. I remember when 'Bucks moved into my college town. Athens, GA, when I was there, was a town proud of its local, independent coffee. We had a variety of choices, and I visited each coffehouse depending on my mood. When I wanted to get some fake studying done, I went to the hyper-social Blue Sky, right on College Avenue. I was always sure to run into a few people I knew there, and it was my favorite for a long time. Jittery Joe's had three locations I frequented — the one by the 40 Watt, where I was likely to run into some cute skaters; the dark, cozy, intellectual one in 5 Points where heavy tapestries soaked up the aroma of coffee so thoroughly that an actual mug of the stuff was just a bonus; and the converted church that contained the roaster for the empire, where I "studied" with friends, our laughter bouncing off the wooden beams high on the ceiling. Have I convinced you, yet, that I love a local coffeehouse? So when Starbucks moved in just a few doors from Blue Sky, I moaned and groaned the the best of 'em. OH, "the man" is coming to kill our indies, blah blah blah. But you know what? I'm not sure that is what killed them. And I've read that in some areas, Starbucks may have fostered a coffee culture that actually supported and encouraged the independent shops. So, sure. Some die-hards will cheer the closing of 600 outposts of the evil empire. But elsewhere, folks are banding together to save their Starbucks. What do you think about Starbucks? Do you have one nearby? Do you go? And if your local is one that's closing, are you upset about it?