In 1971 Starbucks opened its doors in Seattle –a single store with little presumably little idea about the giant it would become today. By 1999 the company had 2,498 stores, had expanded internationally and, had acquired Tazo Tea along with music companies. Today, there are over 22,500 Starbucks in the world (Starbucks Timeline).
As Starbucks’ expansion was well underway, Seattle became more than the location of the beginnings of Starbucks, the site of Pike Place Market, and a trade hub. A burgeoning counterculture showed its face with the famous Seattle uprising that occurred from November 28th to December 3rd of 1999 with what is now known as the “Battle in Seattle.” Multiple interest groups joined forces to successfully shut down the World Trade Organization meeting and the police responded with brute force.
The Seattle uprising was to prove a turning point in world history. Before Seattle, corporatization rolled forward with an air of inevitability. It seemed obvious that transnational corporations would gain control of the global economy. Workers, communities, young people might resist—and resist they did—but they would lose.
What happened in 1999 ended that prophecy (Manski, WTO Uprising).
How can we reconcile Seattle as the birthplace of “mass demonstrations and uprisings against the institutions of global capitalism” as well as Starbucks, a company whose 2014 revenue was $16.45 billion?