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Some Coffee Fans get Grim Delight in Starbucks Woes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - One coffee drinker's bad news is another coffee drinker's good news, it seems.

Financial woes at Starbucks Corp., which is planning to close 600 underperforming U.S. stores, is evoking glee and little sympathy from aficionados who say they resent the coffee shop giant and favor small independent cafes.

"I'm so happy. I'm so not a Starbucks person," said Melinda Vigliotti, sipping iced coffee at the Irving Farm Coffee House in New York. "I believe in supporting small businesses. Starbucks, bye-bye."

"Amen," chimed in Keith DiLauro, a local caterer. "They went too big, too fast."

Seattle-based Starbucks burst onto the national scene in the 1990s and grew to more than 6,000 locations around the world. But with cups of coffee that can cost several dollars, it faces a slowing economy and slowed consumer spending.

"Starbucks has really created a coffee culture, raising awareness of good coffee, which is good for independents," said Carol Watson, owner of the Milk and Honey coffee shop in Chicago. "But on the other hand, they're on practically every corner, and that makes it tough on the little guy too."

In Birmingham, Alabama, retiree Peggy Bonfield, drinking coffee at the Crestwood Coffee Shop, said: "When a Starbucks closes, it makes room for a local business to start.

"I consider that good news," she said.

The schadenfreude of coffee drinkers drawing satisfaction from another's misfortune is part of the popular culture that enjoys the downfall of companies or celebrities, said Jim Carroll, a Canadian-based trends and innovation expert.

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