As a coffee mug collector (or hoarder), I took a liking to the Starbucks “You Are Here” series of mugs that the company has for just about every city and/or state. Collecting such mugs while traveling over the years had become a semi-integral part of those trips.
That is why I was disappointed when I learned that Starbucks is retiring the “You Are Here” series. In place will be a new series of city and/or state themed mugs entitled “Been There.”
Photos of the new mugs have surfaced online and they definitely have a different style design, which will disrupt existing “You Are Here” collections. Casual collectors may or may not notice the difference, and even if they do, they may not care too much since the experience to them is more about collecting a souvenir from a travel destination. Meanwhile, the more ardent collectors are unhappy that their efforts at growing their collections will soon be disrupted.
For as passionate as the ardent collectors are, I suspect that sales generated by them are significantly outnumbered by the more casual collectors. And if sales have softened, then I can understand from a business perspective why Starbucks is making this change. I do wish that the company would somehow show some sympathy to the more ardent collectors though. This decision is inevitably going to upset a community that has been among their brand’s most proudest supporters over the last several years.
While I am bummed that there are some destination “You Are Here” mugs that I really like that I will never have the experience of picking up in person, I am also feeling a sense of relief.
It was during my vacation to Seattle last year where I started to realize that this hobby, which is supposed to be fun, was becoming anxiety-ridden.
During that trip, my wife and I used the opportunity to also visit Vancouver. Between both cities, my obsessive compulsive anxieties took over due to the excess amount of “You Are Here” mugs that were available. There were mugs for Seattle, Pike’s Place (the original Starbucks restaurant), Washington State, Canada and Vancouver — all of which I ended up purchasing except for Washington State. In addition, I picked up an extra Seattle mug for a friend of mine who also collects (though I have a separate beef about that, which I’ll save for another time). I also purchased the Starbucks Seattle “Relief” mug and a Tim Horton’s Vancouver city mug.
I came home with seven coffee mugs! Seven!
Over the last few months, I had started to seriously contemplate towards retiring the hobby, even prior to learning that that Starbucks was discontinuing the “You Are Here” series. The experience of traveling home with seven mugs from the Seattle/Vancouver trip was genuinely stressful and the same thing happened again on a smaller scale while in London last summer. In addition, storing all those mugs has become more of a challenge.
From photos I’ve seen, I’m not that impressed with the “Been There” series mug design. Starbucks switching to the new series may just further steer me towards my original instinct of retiring the hobby.
The thought of continuing at this point has somewhat of a “been there, done that” vibe to it.