When Wall Street masquerades as craft

Advertising one thing and then being something else entirely behind-the-scenes does not a sustainable strategy make.

When Wall Street masquerades as craft

A small coffee chain that positioned itself as an independent craft entity has been outed by sceptical New Yorkers for having 'Wall Street backing'.

Blank Street coffee started out innocently enough, opening at first in the hipster New York-neighbourhood of Williamsburg, during the pandemic; operating out of the back of an old van.

Let's be honest - nothing shouts more authentic mom-and-pop than a coffee outlet in a van right?

Much like the virus that accompanied its founding however, it quickly spread to street corners throughout the NYC area and people began to get suspicious.

Pouncing on open NY retail space - that once housed small entrepreneurial ventures that went out of business because of the pandemic lockdowns - and fuelled by huge amounts of Wall Street and venture capital, Blank Street took their highly-efficient coffee model (which is powered by a considerable amount of cutting edge technology and machine learning) and supersized it.

Blank Street has however now become a modern-day avatar for gentrification and automation that is killing small business in the US, and the backlash has been swift and scathing.

@livlaskowski i physically can’t stop myself from commenting on niche coffee news I’m sorry #blankstreet ♬ Just a Cloud Away - Pharrell Williams

Hipster brands getting smash for having a cosy relationship with big money is not new. When Oatly took funding from Blackstone (who also fund deforestation in the Amazon) - fans were not pleased.

You would think that by now, brands would know that lying about your craft-credentials is a no-no, but apparently some still need to learn the lesson that advertising one thing and then being something else entirely behind-the-scenes does not a sustainable strategy make.


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