When our first international store opened on March 1, 1987, its success was anything but assured. Although we were known in Seattle as retailers of whole-bean coffee, few outside of our hometown had ever heard of us.
But Howard Schultz was undaunted. Inspired by a trip to Milan, he had a new vision for the company. After working with Dave Olsen to launch two Italian-style cafés locally, the two set their sights on Canada to prove out their concept.
Week after week, Dave drove his pickup truck north to interview applicants and install equipment at the Vancouver location we'd found (now known as the SeaBus store). Dave trained the new partners himself, teaching them not only the craft of coffee but also our culture and values.
Though the early days after opening were nerve wracking, before long the SeaBus store began to attract a loyal following. We've since opened more than a thousand stores in Canada – and the original store location has become a tourist attraction in its own right.