The Great Whitechapel Starbucks Who Dunnit Mystery?
Starbucks in Whitechapel had been a centre of protest and anger since it first announced it was going to open it nippleless mermaid clad doors. The Hijackers had been regular protesters at the store, hosting free (fair trade) tea and cucumber sandwich parties, replacing the nipples on the de-sexualised logo, Providing maps of alternate independent stores in the area, even spotting some of the wheat paste graffiti that had gone up on the hoardings. However on January 13th all of our anger at the store had been outdone when mystery assailants smashed through the front doors and threw a firebomb in.
We took it on ourselves to try and solve the mystery, oh and perhaps accidentally remind everyone that Starbucks has such a list of enemies, that the mystery bombers could have come from all walks of life. It was with this in mind that a group of Hijacker Sleuths met one Sunday afternoon on Brick Lane just around the corner from the singed starbucks...
Looking at our list of possible culprits, we figured an area full of independent coffee shops, ethiopian stalls, palestinian supporters, a history of union organisation and plenty of mermaids would be a good place to start (ok the mermaids bit was a lie). Armed with posters, flyers, notepads and magnifying glasses our Hijacker Sleuths set off to quiz the residents and community of Whitechapel.
Our first stop was Coffee@ an independent coffee shop known for not only serving organic coffee, but also allowing customers to bring in bicycles, giving out free dog biscuits and having the most amazing cross dressing staff. Dressed in our cunning disguises we slipped unobtrusively into the store and ordered some drinks. Agents Koshka and Diving Arms Dealer were very impressed to find a hundreds and thousands sprinkler by the sugar. We noticed all of the trendy young things sitting with their macbook's and frantically facebooking, but they seemed so engrossed in their computers that it was hard to interview them for clues.
Outside on the benches by the windows it was a different story, where a rather worrying trend started to make itself apparent. We approached a dapper fellow wheeling a tricycle outside the store
"Hello Good Sir, I don't know if you were aware, but a group of thuggish types recently tried to burn down the Starbucks in Whitechapel, Have you perchance any clues for us?"
"It was me, and I'm proud! I'd do it again!"
Aghast at solving our mystery so quickly it we pressed him further, only to realise that he was panning us a subtle lie, obviously trying to hide the real culprits. However it would later turn out he wasn't the only one who would proudly lay claim to the bombing. Time after time, almost everyone we approached either admitted to it, or gave the vandals their full backing.
We headed down brick lane towards the Starbucks stopping off at cafe's and stopping people in the street. Clues gradually came forth, and many people were happy to put our posters up in their stores.
The Manager of the fair trade coffee bar in Rough Trade denied he had done the deed, however he suggested alongside our list of suspects, we should include the Mafia, who apparently like good expresso, which he claimed was impossible to purchase at Starbucks. However as with the other areas we visited, most of the customers refused to feel any sympathy for the Starbucks. Some even asking why the culprits hadn't finished the job.
Wandering into the UpMarket we visited the Ethiopian food stall, who were at first defensive over their role in the crime. Ethiopia had only recently won a battle with Starbucks after the brand attempted to block the poverty stricken country from registering trade marks for the beans grown in it's own land. Once registered the country would have been able to demand a higher price for it's beans, something Starbucks certainly didn't want to happen.
However after finally admitting they hadn't attempted to destroy their rivals the ladies of the stall suggested a few more culprits. Perhaps it had been an inside job? With the credit crunch in effect, perhaps the company was attempting to pull an insurance job. Or perhaps it was even another Starbucks store? They quite often attempt to battle each other in areas in order to drive down prices and put local rivals out of business. None of these shady business practices would surprise us in the light of other revelations from large US companies with global reach. The ladies other suggestion was that perhaps it was a spurned lover of the manager?
Heading further south we eventually hit the street the store is based on. Our intrepid investigators headed into the store and asked the manager if he had any clues? He was happy for us to put postersup within the store, and then question his patrons. Many it seemed were suprised to hear about the list of grievances that people have against Starbucks. Customers were shocked to hear of their anti-union stance, their support for Israels zionist foreign policies, their attempts to keep the third world poor and to put local independent stores out of business.
Curiosly at this point the manager put a halt to our instore investigation and removed the whodunnit posters from his boards. Was he trying to hide something?
We instead headed back onto the streets to quiz the passers by and once again unearthed a healthy dislike for the store from a vast majority of people we spoke to.
Our only suggestion for the Starbucks is to perhaps bear in mind that constant attempts to put profit before peoples lives, communities character and mermaids nipples isn't the best way to make friends.
Below is a sample of the people we met who were happy to admit, they dunnit! Keep your eyes peeled for other troublemakers in the area.