Starbucks Music specialist Timothy Jones recalls a standard request from customers: ”A pound of Guatemala—and what am I listening to?” They were referring, of course, to the music tapes custom-made for Starbucks outlets. Last April, the chain began selling Blue Note Blend, a jazz set that sold so well (75,000 copies) it spawned follow-ups. Starbucks isn’t the first store to offer a signature CD, but its success inspired others to hawk their own.
Store: Pottery Barn, purveyors of home and kitchenware Album: A Cool Christmas ($10), holiday chestnuts from Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and the like Connection to Merchandise: The appropriately homey tracks drip sentiment like PB’s scented candles drip wax. Selling Point: Jazz pianist Dave McKenna recorded ”I’ll Be Home for Christmas” for the album. A
Store: Ben and Jerry’s Album: One World One Heart ($10), with world-beat and folk artists like Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens and Joan Baez Connection to Merchandise: Acts embody the spirit of this hippie-run company. Quality Control: Founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield helped scoop the songs. B+
Store: Old Navy, ”value-priced” clothing from the people who brought you the Gap Album: Holiday Classics—An Old Navy Christmas ($8), a trip down Christmas past, courtesy of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Doris Day Connection to Merchandise: According to marketing VP Richard Crisman, these happy-face standards should appeal to everyone from ”infants to grandparents,” i.e., the chain’s family clientele. Selling Point: A young, almost unrecognizable Aretha sings ”Winter Wonderland.” B
Store: Ralph Lauren, classic clothes for wallets that have outgrown the Gap Albums: Black Tie Collection, Holiday Collection, Classical Collection, Songs Across America ($15 each) Connection to Merchandise: Acts (Bing Crosby, Jim Croce, Carly Simon, etc.) are as tried-and-true as the clothes. Quality Control: Lauren ”liked and approved of” the songs. Black Tie: C Holiday: B Classical: B America: B+
Store: Eddie Bauer, neatly pressed outdoor garb Album: Global Releaf Tree Project ($8), soft Gen-X rock by Spin Doctors, the Rembrandts, etc. Connection to Merchandise: Perfect for Friends-watching Xers who want that woodsy feeling without getting their hands dirty Irregularity: It’s odd that a CD benefiting reforestation includes Sarah McLachlan’s ”Into the Fire.” ”True,” chuckles spokeswoman Karen Peck. B-