Selling Out vs. Smart Expansion

La Boulange - Store FrontI recently took a family trip to San Francisco. While on vacation I encountered an interesting business that was purchased by Starbucks for $100 million, La Boulange Café and Bakery.

I came across the neighborhood bakery the first day of the trip and soon found out that the quaint French pastry shop with delicious salads, soups, and sandwiches has 19 locations in the San Francisco area. In my four day stay I frequented three different La Boulange cafés and was equally impressed with all of them.

On the last day of the trip we stopped in to get one last Strawberry Danish and overheard the woman in front of us complaining to the cashier about how “La Boulange is a sellout” and “Starbucks better not ruin the quality of the food”.

While many La Boulange customers feel betrayed by the ‘sell-out’, I see it as a smart business move. They will open six more locations in key cities across the US by the end of the year and have featured baked goods in all of Starbucks’ 17,000 stores by 2013.

While some Americans may want to live a European lifestyle, or at least pretend that they do, we live in America; the land of fast food and chain restaurants and the expansion of La Boulange will open the American public to the wonderful world of French macaroons and flan tarts. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with an exceptional business wanting to expand its market to reach more customers. In fact, I see it as a smart business expansion.

Do you think La Boulange is selling out or expanding smartly?

Brittany Lough