I’ve always thought it was cool when people got a certain kind of souvenir from every place they go. Whether that be a pin, a magnet, a Christmas tree ornament or even just a rock, this kind of memory keeping has always interested me but I’ve never been into anything consistently for a long enough period of time to do that for myself, until a couple of years ago.
When I discovered Starbucks ‘You Are Here’ collection of mugs in 2014, I started with the Canada one. Then the Vancouver one. And a monster was created.
When I first was collecting the mugs, I just kind of assumed there was one for every big city in North America. I went to Victoria (the capital of British Columbia) and was searching for, what I assumed would be an obvious option, a Victoria mug (Spoiler: they don’t exist). A barista at one of the locations I went to asked instead, “Uh… you mean the Vancouver Island one?”. You think I would learn my lesson and maybe look up what mugs are out there, but I thought that would spoil the experience and surprise of what they all look like.
I collected a couple more: Seattle, Washington, and later Pike Place from our bordering state, plus Las Vegas when I went there. I was going to Hartford, Connecticut on a trip and I figured since there was a Washington mug, there must be one for each state. Four (very spaced apart) Starbucks later, in the rain, without roaming data, on foot, I figured out there was no Hartford or Connecticut mugs. Maybe “spoiling it” would be okay to avoid any future wild goose chases.
I found THIS site which is a great resource. I copied and sorted the list of mugs in my Notes app as a checklist into Canada and USA categories. This way I could avoid another lesson I learned the hard way, buying a mug when I already had it.
When it was decided that we were going to go on a cross-country and continent road trip, one of my first reactions was to check all the cities/ states/ places we’d go through that had mugs. Problematic, maybe.
So instead of the pins or t-shirts or post cards, I am officially a mug souvenir collector. I mean not only are they meaningful as reminders of the place they were purchased in but also practical (maybe the sheer number of them isn’t, but shh) and can be shown off.
This video goes through all the Starbucks “You Are Here” collection mugs that I picked up on our trip across Canada and the United States. I did miss out on a couple, which in most cases means I’ll just have to go back one day and get them! In the meantime, Starbucks better not discontinue this collection haha.
Starbucks’ “You Are Here” collection consists of mainly ceramic mugs but have also expanded to ornaments, water bottles, and some other glassware items. If you’re deciding whether or not to start collecting them, here are a couple things to know:
- The mugs are $14.95 CAD or $10.95 USD. However, there is some price fluctuation based on where you get them. My Niagara Falls mug was $19.95 CAD (that one hurt) and the Universal Orlando one was $16.95 USD. However, the ones in Québec were randomly 30% off so I got a deal there.
- Even if you don’t typically drink Starbucks, sign up for their rewards program. You can use their app (which is actually pretty good) or get a gift card that you continually use and reload. I won’t go too much into their program with all its tiers and stuff like that, so there’s more information HERE. Over the past couple years they’ve even had an event where you automatically become a gold member after one purchase (which totally irks me as someone who spent a significant amount of money to get that personalized gold Starbucks card, but it could totally work out in your favour!). Even if you only go to Starbucks for the occasional meeting or date, using the rewards program gets you “stars” and eventually you can redeem those for free drinks. I purchased (almost) all the mugs I collected with my app and as a result, had about ten free drinks during the time I was away.
- As I explained above, keep a checklist of the mugs. I use my phone’s Notes app but you can do this however works best for you. Not only is this handy if you’re in doubt over whether or not a certain place has a mug, but also if you can’t remember if you have that Seattle mug (I swear the Seattle one looks A LOT like the Vancouver and Vancouver Island ones!).
- I talk a bit about this in the video but I have a rule that I have to buy all the mugs myself in the places they’re from, not receive them as gifts from people who live in/ travel to the places, or order them online. However, if this doesn’t matter to you and you want them more as a collection rather than souvenirs from specific trips, there are tonnes of online trading/ selling groups where people may be looking for a mug that is really easy for you to get, and they may live in a place with a mug that you want! Also, many people will be willing to get mugs for you as souvenirs on their travels/ send you one if they live in a place with one. My mom got a couple different ones for friends/ family members while we were away. They’re super giftable… it even says so on the box!
- There are different collections besides the standard “You Are Here” mugs. I’d say the most common ones (as of 2017) are as follows:
- Relief Collection (black and white with the skyline and a coloured feature item… a taxi in New York, phone booth in London etc.) which are only available in certain big cities.
- Icon Collection (light brown images where the place name is big text with a feature pop of colour) which is an older collection but still available in many places, especially internationally.
- Local Collection (ceramic travel mugs with unique designs for each place… only available in select locations across USA, plus a mug for Canada). I actually have a few of these, which you can see in the beginning of the above video.
- I mean, this could really be 5B but I’ll make it a separate point. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of these mugs, especially since there are different collections and international lines as well. I can’t tell you how to live your life and if you can afford to just go crazy and buy them all, you go girl (or boy)! I find it easier to limit myself to the standard “You Are Here” mugs and a couple of the Local Collection tumblers, if they are meaningful in some way or just SUPER cute. This was most difficult in New York City when I saw a Relief mug for the first time because those are beautiful. I knew, however, that if I got that I would want all of them and I really don’t need them. Additionally there was a style of mug that I believe is unique to New York, but since I was getting the YAH mug I didn’t need that either. It requires a lot of inner mind arguments with myself but I’ve been good. So far.
- This is kind of irrelevant for most people but I felt I’d include it in case it helps. For mass mug collecting (like from the road trip in the video) where drive-by Starbucks runs had to happen, I found it most helpful to use the Starbucks app store location finder in conjunction with Google Maps on my phone. When I was in a place or was going to pass a place on the day’s drive (we would drive up to 11 hours in a day, crossing as many as six states in one go!) I would find a location that was right off the freeway (rest stop Starbucks were the best for this) and run in, check the shelves, ask if they had any in the back if there wasn’t any on the shelves, and then try the next one. Since we were in a truck pulling a 34′ fifth wheel RV, mobility around narrow, windy, unfamiliar streets was such a horrible, anxiety-inducing experience so anything close to the freeway generally had wide, semi-truck friendly roads which were the best for us as well. At some places I would call ahead to see if the store had any (the app will include the phone number for each location when you click on the little green dot) which helped also. The YAH mugs come in the green boxes with brown cardboard sleeve/ lids but a lot of the other mugs (including the local collection tumblers) do not. Some locations provided boxes for the other mugs (my mom bought a Relief mug in New York) but it’s something to be aware of when driving long distances. I would keep the mugs with me in the truck for the duration of the drive and when we would get to the next campsite I would put the mugs underneath the bed where it folded up for storage, a part of the trailer that doesn’t move much. Aside from one exception, none of my mugs broke… if you want to see the sad story about the one that did, it’s in my Disney World haul!
I hope that helps! If you have any other questions, there are several Facebook groups and sites dedicated to Starbucks mug collecting (I’m a novice in comparison to many people out there!) but I will try my best to help if I can!
Thanks so much for reading this post and have a great day!