Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Starbucks Rewards adds Teavana benefits

Starbucks is expanding its rewards programs to allow people to redeem points for bottled water, juices in addition to food and coffee. Above, the display case  of food at the East Manatee Starbucks off of S.R. 64 and Interstate 75. CHARLES SCHELLE/Bradenton Herald

The over-caffeinated Manatee County residents will have some reasons to rejoice with Starbucks added benefits the Seattle-based company announced today.

Starbucks Rewards, the chain's loyalty program, sent an email to members today announcing they are beefing up its redemption items. Here's the skinny from Starbucks:

"• You can now redeem your rewards for bottled drinks, including Evolution Fresh™ juices, as well as for handcrafted beverages, brewed coffee and food items* at participating Starbucks® stores.
 • Rewards are also redeemable at participating Teavana® specialty tea stores for beverages or loose-leaf tea.
• In addition to your free birthday reward, you now get a 15% off coupon** at StarbucksStore.com to make your special day even better."

It's great to hear that you can grab a juice or water to rehydrate and an extra birthday coupon is savvy to buy that touristy mug you wanted at the airport (guilty).

The benefit to watch for local residents is the Teavana offer. Starbucks closed on a deal earlier this year to buy the tea store for a cool $620 million, and the stores are coming to more locations. Teavana has locations in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Brandon including Taubman's malls International Plaza plus Mall at Millenia in Orlando. You'll find loose leaf teas brewed on the spot and the tins of tealeaves for sell, but the stores are also savvy at selling the high-end loose leaf teapots.

The Mall at University Town Center certainly fits the Teavana profile being in similar upscale malls. The Mall at UTC, being leased by Michigan-based Taubman, is due to open Oct. 16, 2014.

I reached out to Teavana for comment to see if they are ready to announce coming to the mall. We'll find out soon enough even if the store declines.

If Teavana does come to the mall, at least you'll rack up enough points by then at the numerous Starbucks in Manatee-Sarasota to earn a free tea.

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