Regulars at the coffee shop on Stillwater's Main Street are staging a rally this weekend to try to keep the downtown business open.
Kevin Thode is not the rabble-rousing type.
But the prospect of losing his favorite hangout has turned him into something of a revolutionary. He's passing out fliers, firing off petition e-mails and recruiting others to join him in his cause -- to stop his local Starbucks from closing.
Thode, a regular at the Starbucks on Main Street in downtown Stillwater, is leading a rally at noon Saturday at the coffee shop. He's hoping 200 people will be there to protest the decision to close the store on Feb. 27.
"It might be a fool's errand; I have no idea," said Thode, who says he's never led a protest before. "It still will be fun no matter what the results are."
Customer movements to "save our Starbucks" have sprung up in cities large and small since last July, when the Seattle-based chain began closing hundreds of its stores. While online petition drives and phone calls to the company are common, public demonstrations are rare.
In Fresno, Calif., an anonymous supporter created an elaborate display with a "Save Our Starbucks" sign plastered outside an empty storefront next to the doomed coffee shop.
At a Starbucks in Rockport, Texas, a customer learned that managers from the corporate office were scheduled to visit the store and announce that it was closing. Upon hearing this, the customer, Dee Parker, mobilized a group of residents to show up and protest the closing when the managers arrived. Starbucks officials found out about the plot and moved the meeting to another location.
Last month, the company announced that it was shuttering 300 "underperforming" stores, including the one in the historic Grand Garage building in Stillwater. It's been there for 10 years.
A spokeswoman at Starbucks headquarters said the company is not granting interviews on individual store closings. She sent the following written statement:
"Our Stillwater location is scheduled to close. The lease was set to expire on this store at the end of February and we decided not to renew it. We are humbled by the support we've received from our partners and customers regarding the closure of this store. We recognize the impact this has on the community, and we value the feedback that we have received from our customers."
The closing of the Starbucks on Main would leave two others in the vicinity -- one in the Target store in Stillwater and another in Kowalski's in Oak Park Heights. There are also two older, independent coffee shops operating on Main Street -- the Daily Grind and the Supreme Bean Espresso Cafe.
Thode says when he learned that the downtown Starbucks was closing, he felt compelled to fight for it.
"My wife and I, we go every night, have our hot chocolate and hang out for a bit," he said. "In the summer, they have that patio out front and it's nice to sit outside with our golden retriever. It's just a neat Stillwater gathering spot."
Allie Shah • 612-673-4488