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I always viewed franchising as a way to get access to capital, because you're using other people's money to grow, essentially. And we were dealing with a premium product—something that can be hard to learn, that you have to explain to the customer, that requires an educated staff. It would have been hard to provide the level of sensitivity to customers and knowledge of the product needed to create those Starbucks values if we franchised. You can be just as entrepreneurial and experimental in a company-owned model.
One reason we've been able to exert an unusual amount of control over our products is because we never franchised. When we began to license and form strategic partnerships and joint ventures, we spent a lot of time with the other [companies'] management to see how they operate in good times and bad, and whether we shared a similar view of the world. You are judged by the company you keep.
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