Whats in a name? For a company, everything. Its logo and image
are linked to letters, symbols and colors.
The coffee retailers image translates into fresh brews, sidewalk
ambiance and, currently, a steaming brouhaha over its signs on Ketchums historic
Lane Mercantile Building. Last May 10, the towns planning and zoning staff approved
the Starbucks logo--green signs with white letters--on the buildings south and west
facing walls. The two-by 20-foot signs went up on June 16.
Both signs are legal under the citys signage guidelines.
So whats wrong?
Lisa Majdiak, Ketchums chief planner, said about 30 complaints
rolled into city hall, both of the verbal and written variety, following the P&Z
decision. "Thats more complaints than weve ever gotten on any sign,"
Thirty complaints? Doesnt seem like much. But, then again,
neither do the signs. Intrusive? In bad taste? Hardly.
In any case, public opinion must have been galvanized because
Ketchums city hall watchdogs and Starbucks once again huddled Monday night over this
Question: How do you place the coffee retailers name on those
lovable historic bricks without violating the towns history and pride?
The solution, agreed upon by both sides: A smaller west-facing sign
attached to the buildings awning that blends more into the Mercantiles aging
exterior color. A cedar plank is expected to display "Starbucks Coffee" in white
Alas, therell be no south-facing sign, as is now the case high on
the building, to greet visitors motoring up Main Street. Instead, a small green Starbucks
sign, oval in shape and 24 inches in diameter, will be attached to the buildings
Starbucks representative Rachael Royce, ever the diplomat, suggested
that anything smaller might be invisible.
Whatever the case, Majdiak told a writer the original signswhich
she green-lighted"didnt fit in with the historic character of the
building. I think its a very valid issue."
Seattle-based Starbucks, of course, will turn somersaults to satisfy
"We want to be good corporate neighbors," said Don Volonte,
Starbucks Boise-based district manager, whose degree in sociology undoubtedly helps
him retain his sanity.
In a few weeks, barring more complications, the P&Z staff is
expected to approve the new signs. No City Council vote is required, Majdiak said.
Hopefully, the issue will be resolved once and for all. Then, we can all relax with a
frothy latte and conduct a reality check.