Maveron Copes With a More Frugal Consumer

Maveron, a specialist investor in consumer-facing businesses known for its Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) connection and early success with an eBay Inc. (EBAY) investment, is staring at what looks like a once-in-a-lifetime shift in consumer attitudes.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, shoppers who once lusted after high-priced fashion brands have turned frugal, would-be early retirees are polishing off their job skills and many homeowners owe more than their houses are worth.

“It’s pretty safe to say that you probably had a more dramatic shift in consumer behavior in the last two years than in the last 30 or 40 years,” said Maveron Partner Dan Levitan, who co-founded the firm in 1998 with Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz. “People are less proud of indulgences and more focused on value.” But Maveron sees more opportunities than pitfalls in this trend.

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