Starbucks To Close 600 Stores Starbucks announces plans to close 600 stores nationwide.

Starbucks To Close 600 Stores

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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

(Soundbite of music)

MIKE PESCA, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, burn, baby, burn. I'm Mike Pesca. It's Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008.

Message to the Internet. Internet, come a little closer to the radio, if you're listening, or perhaps you're monitoring this show internally, because we're on the Internet. You need to lose the weight. By the weight, I mean the deadweight, the deadweight on Yahoo! Answers. You know this Yahoo! Answers thing? It should be called Yahoo! Answers by Slightly Drunk Guys in West Covina. Or maybe it should be, like, Yahoo! Ill-Informed Opinions.

My baby, Milo, got his fingers a little bit burned yesterday. It's not a big thing, just slightly more serious than a boo-boo. But I - you know, I'm a parent, so I did what I thought I had to do. And also, let me say, won't get too much into details, but if you are considering buying baby's first ceramics kiln, it's not a quality product. So, he was a little singed there, and I, you know, called the doctor, and rubbed some lotion on it, and all this. He's not even crying. He's fine. I gave him a little dose of the Baby Motrin.

Also a bad sign, when they sell the kiln along with the Baby Motrin, that's a bad sign. But I go onto the much-lauded Internet, and I type in, you know, something like first-aid burn blister, and I hope I get, like, a Red Cross site, or Dr. Koop, if he's still around. Or even if it's a cached menu item, that's fine. I don't think there's been a lot of advances in burn technology. And the Yahoo! Answers pops up, and you get first guy answering, do not pop the blister. Answer two, pop the blister. Number three, do not pop the blister. Number four, I work in a restaurant, pop it. Number five, I work with that guy, he's an idiot. Number six, both those guys have no fingers. It's ridiculous.

It's like they're debating the transubstantiation of a Eucharist in the 17th century, to pop or not to pop the blister. So, I think Google, which has two buttons called search and "I'm feeling lucky," there should be a third button called "I'm feeling stupid," and that will take you right to Yahoo! Answers. It could be called the Waste My Time button. And so the story ends well. The answer is aloe and love. And that, strangely enough, is also the answer to the transubstantiation of the Eucharist question.

All right, coming up on today's show, we'll get a live update from Wimbledon, where they've had upsets galore. Tom Perotta from Tennis Magazine joins us. And remember Steven Hatfill? He's the scientist who was named a "person of interest" back during the post-9/11 Anthrax scare. The government had to pay him off, because he should never have been a person of interest. It kind of destroyed his life by going through his mail and letting the media in on it.

And also, we'll talk to the author of a new book called "Napoleon's Privates: 2500 Years of History Unzipped." Yes, that kind of privates, lots of NPR innuendo. We'll get today's headlines in just a minute, but first...

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(Soundbite of TV show "Lewis Black: End of the Universe")

Mr. LEWIS BLACK (Comedian): Many people have asked, are there too many Starbucks? Well, now we know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BLACK: Yes. When you build a Starbucks across from a Starbucks, the game is over.

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PESCA: Lewis Black tried to tell you, Starbucks. And in "Best in Show," they tried to tell you there might be something absurd about your business model.

(Soundbite of movie "Best in Show")

Ms. PARKER POSEY: (As Meg Swan) We met at Starbucks, not at the same Starbucks, but we saw each other at different Starbucks, across the street from each other.

Mr. MICHAEL HITCHCOCK: (As Hamilton Swan) Mm-hm. I remember what I was drinking when I met you. It was a Grande Espresso.

Ms. POSEY: (As Meg Swan) That's right, and I thought that was really sexy.

Mr. HITCHCOCK: (As Hamilton Swan) Yeah.

PESCA: They never listened to the comedy, and Starbucks announced yesterday that it is closing 600 of its company-operated stores in the U.S. Meaning your neighborhood Starbucks may be no more, and you may have to go to your other neighborhood Starbucks, or the one across from that. The Seattle-based, giant super chain's stock price has been falling for two years. While the company did not reveal which particular shops would be closed, chief financial officer, Pete Bocian, said the cuts would be happening all across the country.

(Soundbite of press conference)

Mr. PETE BOCIAN (Chief Financial Officer, Starbucks Corporation): These stores were not profitable, and that we expect this action will be a good part of contributing to us making our long-term targets.

PESCA: Pete Bocian speaking from the bottom of a cup of latte. And the comedians may be on to something. Bocian says most of the stores on the chopping block had to be open near another Starbucks. Twelve - or they were open, that's why they have to close - 12,000 employees, Starbucks calls them partners, will be affected. Most will be moved to nearby stores. The company didn't say how many jobs would be lost.

The 600 stores to be closed represent only eight percent of company-operated stores nationwide. If we were to lose eight percent of our Starbucks in Manhattan, only 170 would remain. The company is fighting their slide in other ways, too. They're cutting back on in-store CD sales. It may be a sign they're finally listening to comedians.

(Soundbite of TV show "The Late Late Show")

Mr. CRAIG FERGUSON (Host, "The Late Late Show"): Stick to what you know, coffee and muffins, not Cranium and the Norah Jones CD. I don't care about that. Knock it off, Starbucks.

PESCA: That's Craig Ferguson. Ralph Harris says, maybe, next, Starbucks ought to think about its prices.

(Soundbite of standup comedy show)

Mr. RALPH HARRIS (Comedian): They should call it Four or Five-bucks. That's what the hell they should call it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Because it ends in bucks. It's good stuff. You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on this story. Now let's get some more of today's headlines with the well-caffeinated Mark Garrison.

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