Starbucks Taiwan's First Community Store Honors Indigenous Culture

Starbucks welcomed 2023 by opening a new Community Store in Taiwan, joining at least 150 similar stores across the globe bearing that moniker. It's certainly not the first Starbucks location in Taiwan, with roughly 540 traditional coffee venues and 5,600 partners throughout the country, according to Starbucks Stories Asia. But this grand opening, which took place on January 5 in Hualien County, is different.

Community Stores occupy a unique space within the massive Starbucks corporation, focusing on under-resourced areas, economic growth, non-profit partnerships, and utilizing resident talent for everything from store design to art, architectural components, contractors, and of course, store employees. Programs dig deep, providing regional support for indigenous communities, veterans, farmers, military service families, and more. 

Less than a year before opening this first Community Store in Taiwan, Starbucks announced a commitment to expanding its global portfolio to 1000 similar venues by 2030. That adds to the 100 existing locations within the U.S., per the Dallas Observer, which notes two Community Stores in Dallas featuring a community gathering space for events and partnerships supporting a community garden, a high school business competition, and programs for food insecurity and unemployment.

Starbucks Taiwan has supported the country's indigenous community since 1999 after launching its "Indigenous Hope" project. The program addresses education opportunities for indigenous children, providing scholarships, student centers, classrooms, a stadium. and assistance with personal development. And this new Starbucks Community Store takes things to a whole new level.

Taiwan's Community Store celebrates community and local art

Several models of Starbucks Community Stores exist, and the one in Taiwan falls within the "third place" concept, which the Brookings Institute describes as a community gathering spot that's separate from a person's typical "first" and "second" places, which are typically home and work. 

The third place is one where people of various backgrounds and social constructs can gather, exchange ideas, and connect in ways that strengthen community bonds. Starbucks Stories Asia adds that the "third place" Hualien Heping Community Store in Taiwan also aims to elevate and cultivate pride in the diverse regional indigenous cultures. 

The store manager, a long-time Starbucks employee, has roots in the local Truku tribe, and the store incorporates art from various indigenous creators, including coffee-themed artworks using paint, embroidery, and textiles. The world-renowned green employee/partner aprons get an extra splash of color and texture from a woven totem strip by Truku weaving master Shi Ma Hsui-Hua and female tribal members.

The Hualien store comes on the heels of another recent Community Store in Asia, opening less than a month prior in South Korea. The "Kyungdong 1960" is one of five Starbucks Community Stores in that country and honors the strong heritage and history of the long-time Kyungdong Market, explains Inside Retail. It utilizes the original features and architecture of the old market theatre and retains a theatrical theme, aiming to revitalize an important economic and cultural community component. Plans include in-store performances and music concerts.