Las Vegas does not love Starbucks as much as you think

This Starbucks is not located in Las Vegas. "Sympathy For The Starbucks" by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
This Starbucks is not located in Las Vegas. “Sympathy For The Starbucks” by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Thanks a latte, bad data!

If you think that pun is cringeworthy, don’t blame the Nevada Current. Blame ApartmentGuide for forcing us to write that sentence. Earlier this week, the listing website turned fly-by-night research firm dubbed Las Vegas the “Best City for Starbucks Lovers” based off the number of Starbucks that exist per capita. Local media shared the news.

The problem: The website compared the population of the City of Las Vegas (641,676) to the number of Starbucks with a “Las Vegas” address (125).

While that methodology works for the majority of cities across the country, it does not here in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, where more than 1 million residents live in what is referred to as unincorporated Clark County. Unincorporated Clark County residents do not technically live in Las Vegas but their addresses typically list Las Vegas instead of Enterprise, Paradise, Sunrise Manor, etc. They are not beholden to the whims of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and their city-level services are handled directly by Clark County.

Notable places located within unincorporated Clark County include the main campus of the University of Nevada “Las Vegas” and the “Las Vegas” Strip. Here’s a helpful map, which city and county officials have to keep handy because residents often call the wrong office when trying to complain about potholes, party homes and other neighborhood-level issues.

Screwing up a list glorifying the ubiquity of Starbucks isn’t that big of a deal. However, the methodological error of comparing the population of Las Vegas to data representing Las Vegas plus unincorporated Clark County has been repeated elsewhere and sometimes the implications are undeserved. Most troubling are pseudo-academic listings that compare the population of Las Vegas to crime data reported by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which services unincorporated Clark County. The comparison is not only wrong but helps perpetuate myths that can have real-world impacts on policy and how public money is used.

But anyway back to coffee.

A quick search of business licenses issued by the City of Las Vegas turns up only 54 Starbucks. That number appears to include SBuxes located within other businesses, which ApartmentGuide said it excluded from its methodology. Either way, the City of Las Vegas would not be anywhere near the top of a list of the Best Cities for Starbucks Lovers.

Starbucks lovers should apparently move to Burbank, Calif.

April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and three mutts.


  1. People never ever ever understand this. Even people who live here. It is very frustrating but also fun to explain to people because it is something that makes Vegas unique is an awful way. Thank you got pointing out how frustrating and inconvenient these numbers can be.

  2. Great article April,

    It always amazes me how unaware and uninformed people are about their community. I remember when Oscar Goodman first ran for mayor of Las Vegas and started talking about the Las Vegas Strip Casinos. Goodman was quickly informed that the Strip was not in his jurisdiction. During the recent City Council race, one candidate, running for Ward 1, had a photo of the Las Vegas Strip in their banner. I live in the County portion of Summerlin and pay Summerlin HOA fees. Some of my friends don’t know that they live in the City of Las Vegas portion of Summerlin. Some of my friends claim to live in Summerlin when in actuality they live in Peccole Ranch, Canyon Gate, Queens Ridge, or Spring Valley. Maybe I am just a nerd for statistics and maybe it just is not that important to most people. I think that Madona said it best, ‘We live in an oblivious world, and people are just oblivious pearls.’ Or, something like that.


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