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Originally published Friday, July 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Starbucks makes it official: Washington losing 19 stores

On Starbucks' list of 600 U.S. store closures, California takes the biggest hit with 88 stores closing by the end of March as part of the...

Seattle Times business reporter

On Starbucks' list of 600 U.S. store closures, California takes the biggest hit with 88 stores closing by the end of March as part of the company's strategy to improve U.S. profits.

It's only 5 percent of the Starbucks stores in California, though, and the state will still have the largest number of Starbucks stores by far.

The next largest — Texas with 509 stores and Florida with 437 — will see store cuts of 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

In Washington, Starbucks will close 19, or about 5 percent, of it 407 stores, including seven in its hometown of Seattle. At least one, 620 Denny Way, closed in June, according to an employee at the Shell station next door. That was before Starbucks' early-July announcement that it planned to slash 600 stores, or about 5 percent of its U.S. total.

Some states are losing just a handful of Starbucks, but they represent a huge portion of the coffee company's presence in those areas. In Mississippi, for example, Starbucks will close seven of its 17 stores. Four of North Dakota's 12 Starbucks stores are closing.

A handful of states like Alaska and Vermont are not losing any Starbucks, but they started low. Alaska has five Starbucks, and Vermont has four.

"If it had to happen, now is the best time, because a lot of us are moving or going off to college," said Lynsey Detwiler, a barista at the Kirkwood Mall in Bismarck, N.D., which is closing.

Some people at the store will move to the other Starbucks stores in town, she said.

The closures affect about 12,000 Starbucks employees nationwide. Starbucks has said it will try to find jobs in the company for those workers.

"I'm hearing that apparently they're going to be able to place us all," said one Washington barista who didn't want her name to appear in the paper for fear of losing her job. "I think it would make anybody nervous knowing there are so many of them, but they've always come through with what they're saying."

The release of the full closure list was unexpected; Chief Executive Howard Schultz said last week that closures would be announced each month after employees received 30-day closing notices.

In a news release Thursday, the company said, "In the spirit of transparency with our partners, customers and communities, we are providing the full list of stores for general-information purposes."

Closure dates for each store will be given after employees are told when their store is closing.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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