How do you take a commodity product that has existed for hundreds of years, usually costs about 75 cents, is offered at thousands of locations, can be made at home; then double the price and in the process start a revolutionary business philosophy? Well, you just improve of buying said cup of coffee to such a pleasurable endeavor that people will line up to pay a $1.95 for a cup. That’s how Starbucks, or “Bucks” as I like to call them, did it. The coffee is good, no doubt, but it’s more than the coffee, it’s the wood floors in the shops. It’s the hip art on the walls and eclectic music playing in the background. It’s the brown steel refrigerated cases that hold the cakes. You’re not asking for a large cup of joe from some punk manning the register, a barista will create your tailor made, super sweet, amazingly unhealthy drink order that can be as long and complex as you want. It’s not large, it’s a venti. It’s not a mocha, it’s a caramel macchiato. Starbucks has got it nailed.

The Starbucks revolution is now trickling into other product commodity areas, where manufacturers are looking for ways to charge more for the otherwise common product. Apple’s stores accept reservations so you can meet with an Apple Store Genius, who will match your specific needs to the perfect Mac. You can attend in-store classes, taught by young and hip future Kurt Cobains who teach you how to convert pictures into musical slide shows. When its over, and you have purchased a $35 hunk of plastic to protect your iPhone, they will hand you the coolest Apple shopping bag so you can parade around the mall in all your hipness.

HP is giving a spin this summer by test marketing its in-store HP Boutiques at MicroCenter stores. The Boutiques will showcase all sorts of HP products and are staffed with sales reps (we’ll call them “H


“‘rs) who will show you just how wonderful all of these gadgets work together. We haven’t seen one in the flesh yet, but pictures of HP’s Boutique look eerily similar to where I just bought my last skinny latte.

Make mine a venti, desktopy, thats super speedy, with 3GB of RAMMY. Add some Office 2003 and make sure it’s Vista free. Thank you.