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Monday, April 14, 2008

Among today's topics: things that make sales managers "feel weird"

Morning snapshot of PP: I walk in through American Theater, which is right near our catering kitchen. As I walk, the unmistakable, comforting smell of baked deliciousness (thank you, Susie) washes over me. Later, I walk over to The William Aiken House. They're re-sodding the lawn, so the air is heady with the smell of fresh earth and grass. On the ground next to the door is a rumpled, bright green tablecloth, a leftover from one of the weekend's events. It's always fascinating to glimpse the "morning after" scenes. (Note to self: photographs of mornings after would make a fabulous coffee table book.)

This weekend kicked off the season for the Charleston Farmer's Market. Friends, local growers and artisans hang up their shingles for a few hours in Marion Square every Saturday from now until just after Thanksgiving. Tool around to see an incredible array of produce, herbs, cut flowers, jewelry, art and crafts. And call me crazy, but everyone who's there is just in the best mood. Folks are walking with dogs, babies in strollers and everyone just seems happy.

In other news, you know that I've been transfixed by Starbucks lately as they struggle to reinvigorate their brand and well, boost their stock. And to those of you who think branding and graphic design decisions don't matter, get this. Today, I got a call from one of our Sales Managers (Charlotte), who had purchased a cup created in their "new" design. "You have to come and see this," she said. Needless to say, I dropped what I was doing.

Upon entering her office, she mentioned that the new design, "made me feel weird." The logo brouhaha is best summarized here. What you'll see is, that in their attempt to get back to basics, Starbucks has, also, gone back to its logo basics. Here begins the "weird feelings." The star of the logo is a siren: she of the two tails and bare, yet tastefully "draped" breasts. Now, after doing some background reading, I saw that in some market testing they did years ago, Starbucks found that female customers were rather "uncomfortable" with the siren, in her um, entirety. So I find it super-interesting they're bringing her back. But, maybe a little controversy is what they're looking for...it certainly keeps the conversation going.

Had breakfast yesterday at one of my favorite local haunts, Alex's on Coleman Boulevard in Mt. Pleasant. Talk about the perfect place to people watch. I started frequenting Alex's when I lived on Shem Creek. I got to know many of the waitresses and staff. (They all call me honey or baby, which I just love. P.S. That doesn't mean you should.)

Sitting at the "bar," you will see the most astounding things. You cannot believe the sheer volume of food and people that move through that establishment on any given weekend morning. It sincerely boggles the mind. What I enjoy most is watching the interactions. How a waitress who's completely overwhelmed will take time out for one of her regular customers. How the more "experienced" waitresses will help/haze a newbie waitress as she sinks into the oblivion of a Saturday breakfast rush. How Miss Debbie, who I've seen expediting orders in the kitchen, cooking, serving, shaking hands with customers and in a photo with Fred Thompson near the restroom (I'm serious), totally runs the place. How refilling a cup of coffee or placing a steaming plate of eggs in front of someone can change their world view, if only for a moment.

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