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Coffee shop owner sues Starbucks [09/27/2006]

Coffee shop owner sues Starbucks

SEATTLE (UPI) -- A Seattle-area woman has filed suit against Starbucks, claiming that the international coffee chain ran her out of business by handing out free samples.

Penny Stafford, owner of Belvi Coffee & Tea Exchange, opened a branch last year inside a deli in an office building in Bellevue, Wash., the Seattle Post Intelligencer said. Bellevue is a Seattle suburb with a core of high-rise office buildings and hotels.

In her lawsuit, she says that Starbucks employees would make frequent runs past the deli with free samples. She said that Starbucks also had non-competitive leases that blocked her from the most desirable locations in Bellevue and Seattle.

The suit claims that Starbucks, fueled by "insatiable and unchecked ambition," wanted to squash all competition.

John Stott, who owns Johnika's Deli, said that he advised Stafford not to open a business so near a Starbucks.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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