Starbucks is opening a new location in Siloam Springs, and questions exist as to what impact it will have on the local coffee scene.
Zahra Maxwell, a sophomore in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, works as a barista at Pour Jon’s.
“I think at first I was surprised something so big would want to come to Siloam.” But, Maxwell said because “Starbucks will be so far away on the 412 I don’t think it will be big competition,” for other cafes in Siloam. Besides the factor of distance, she also thinks customers will remain loyal to Pour Jon’s because it’s more personal. “People also know what they’re getting at Pour Jon’s and it’s more of an atmosphere, and also our coffee is better quality.”
“Personally, I’m excited,” Lauren Gardner, a junior English major, said. “There’s a couple of Starbucks specialty drinks that other coffee shops just don’t have. It’ll be the best of both worlds.” Still, Gardner sees the appeal of local coffee shops. “When deciding where to get coffee, they either go for the taste or the atmosphere. Usually I’ll be willing to drink a bitter coffee if the environment is nice. I think it’s the same sentiment with people deciding to go to a local shop.”
“[Pour Jon’s] has [their] own specific vibe and components that are already pretty laid out,” Maxwell said. “We have the vinyl, we play all of our music on vinyl and we sell our own vinyl and that’s a very unique thing that people don’t really do any more. Some of the barista’s are JBU students so people are familiar with them. It’s close to campus. We roast our own beans. We make our own pastries in house. Stuff like that. It’s just special.”
While Pour Jon’s is a regular off-campus hangout for many students, others prefer not to leave campus at all. “Ground Floor offers ease of convenience for students that no other coffee shop will be able to provide,” Gardner said. “Can’t beat a three-minute walk from your door to a latte.”
“I think [small town coffee shops] are unique because you can get specifically what you want,” Maxwell said. “A lot of the time I take orders that aren’t even on the menu, like people order specials we had a couple of years ago. While Starbucks would stop offering something like that, we will just make you exactly what you want, how you want it.”
Gardner agrees with Maxwell that the personal touches of Ground Floor and Pour Jon’s have already established student’s loyalties in Siloam.
“People who love Starbucks and were already going to Fayetteville to get a cup are going to keep going there. But for people who are already emotionally invested in a local chain, the shine will wear off the apple and they’ll return to Ground Floor or Pour Jon’s,” Gardner said.