Why Starbucks Is The Hottest Designer Brand In A Coronavirus World

While many chain restaurants were able to remain open for business throughout the pandemic, offering their services via drive-thru or delivery, it seems that everybody is nonetheless nostalgic for the days when they could actually walk in and place their order in person. One chain that is sorely missed is Starbucks, where it's about the experience as much as the product. It kind of takes the fun out of things, having to order on the app and collect at the drive-thru window instead of enjoying the morning ritual of standing elbow-to-elbow with your fellow caffeine addicts and watching the baffled and/or annoyed expression flit across your barista's face as you ask for a half-soy, quarter oat milk, quarter coconut milk, half-caf, no-foam, triple-shot Venti cappuccino.

No doubt numerous blogs have also suffered without the inspiration provided by Starbucks' comfy couches and free Wi-Fi, and how many self-pub Kindle books are going unwritten in its absence? Well, we can get Starbucks delivered to our very own couches, and we can even engage in Zoom kaffeeklatsches should we so desire (or they be mandated by our virtual workplaces), but the one thing missing to recreate the whole Starbucks-at-home experience is Starbucks-branded stuff, which is a void many have been scrambling to fill during the long two+ months without their favorite watering hole.

Starbucks merch resellers are doing a booming business

You'd think you could just order Starbucks non-food items on their website, right? Wrong. As CNN Money reported at the time, Starbucks online store went offline in 2017, and the only place they now sell their tumblers, mugs, espresso machines, etc. is in their stores — and no, these items are not available via the app, nor for takeout or delivery. Since there's no direct seller of all things Starbucks, anyone in need of a Starbucks souvenir must shop via resale sites, which have been experiencing a huge surge in demand for all things Starbucks over the last few weeks.

The CEO of one such site, Poshmark, spoke to CNN Business about their 100 percent increase in Starbucks merch sales since mid-March, attributing it to people missing the whole Starbucks component of their daily ritual. As Manish Chandra described the phenomenon, "People have been making their coffee at home and pouring it into their favorite Starbucks cups, or taking their Starbucks mugs to their Zoom meetings or now, virtual coffee meets." Chandra says it is the number one trending brand on Poshmark right now. Another resale site, OfferUp, notes that Starbucks color-changing cups, some of which have been marked up to $65 or more, have hit their list of top 10 trending search terms. As Starbucks locations slowly start reopening to foot traffic, it remains to be seen how popular their merch will continue to be, although the days of insane markups on items that can soon be purchased in-store are hopefully numbered.