Who doesn’t love Starbucks? Well, probably you, if you drink Black Rifle Coffee. But despite Starbucks’ virtual ubiquity, it seems like the coffee chain is hitting some hard times.
Not that long ago, we talked about some of the PR problems the company was facing. Starbucks likes to position itself as a “progressive,” forward-thinking company (unless a head tax is involved). In the past, they’ve tried to spur their baristas into talking to customers about such hot-button topics as race. Ugh.
More recently, they tried to paper over an unpleasant story by closing their stores and conducting brainwashing—I mean—sensitivity training with their staff. It seems like Starbucks really wants us to know how liberal and open-minded they are. Racial bias is a terrible thing, after all. And if anyone’s going to stamp out centuries of racial tension, it’ll be the ‘Bucks.
Why do companies have to inject themselves into politics? Sure, big businesses like to donate money to causes; that’s a tax write off, after all. And when a CEO backs a politician, we all know what that’s about (quid pro quo). But why use the image and branding of your very successful company to push ideas that you know many customers don’t share?
Is it plain arrogance? Or perhaps the kind of ego-driven policy we see from so many liberals. “We’re right and you just have to deal with it,” is the kind of attitude we see from so many virtue-signaling celebs and companies.
But for Starbucks to take such a strong stance on the issue of race is leading to unintended consequences. I’m not talking about all the hobos that are now using Starbucks’ restrooms to take a bath. I’m talking about the fact that this company is now branded as “racially progressive.” They put themselves in a position where they expect people to see them differently. They put their necks out over the cause of ending racial bias.
Naturally, we assume that value will affect everything else they do.
Existing-store sales have been declining over the past several years and especially over the last two, Bloomberg reports, prompting CEO Kevin Johnson to start shutting down some stores while looking for greener pastures elsewhere. And guess what one key criterion for these closures might be? …
Although business abroad has been booming and the chain has been opening more and more cafes, U.S. sales growth has stalled for the company that brought espresso to the masses. With about 14,000 stores domestically, Starbucks is now pumping the brakes on licensed and company-operated locations, with a renewed focus on rural and suburban areas. (Hot Air)
Starbucks is shutting down stores in urban areas. There are numerous economic reasons for this move. Starbucks has been setting up shops like gangbusters over the last decade or so. It stands to reason that they need to adjust from time to time. Maybe that means not opening up a shop every ten feet in major cities. Maybe every fifteen feet should suffice?
But it’s hard not to see the impact this will have on urban areas. Starbucks is a company that employs many around the world. They provide jobs and benefits to young workers. In urban areas, many of those potential employees are minorities. Now Starbucks is shutting down stores, depriving minorities of good opportunities.
Isn’t this the same company that promised to confront racial bias? And now they are taking jobs away from the same people they’re purporting to help? Not great timing, Starbucks.
What is the real cause of these store closures? Probably not racial bias. We can’t ignore the fact that many major cities—lead by Democrats—have higher taxes, pricey real estate, and continually-rising minimum wage standards.
The closing stores are often in “major metro areas where increases in wage and occupancy and other regulatory requirements” are making them unprofitable, Johnson said. “Now, in a lot of ways, it’s middle America and the South that presents an opportunity.” (Hot Air)
Like so many other people from California and New York, Americans are moving to the South. It’s no wonder companies are doing the same. They are sick of the heavy burden that comes from living in Brooklyn or San Francisco. You have to pay extra for the privilege of living in a crowded, noisy, pollution-filled city.
Businesses need to make a profit. For all their virtual signaling and grandstanding, Starbucks can only survive if people give them money. Americans aren’t interested in a company lecturing them about race. Let’s let the politicians ruin that issue, thank you very much. We go to Starbucks for a caffeine fix and respite from our daily grind. But when a company keeps trying to be “relevant” on as divisive an issue as race, problems arise.
It’s understandable that Starbucks needs to close stores to save money. But it’s such bad timing. They just went through a big ordeal to fix their image. They really wanted people to know they don’t kick black people out of their stores. Now we learn they are closing stores in places many minorities live and work. Didn’t they see the obvious conflict here? I guess not. After all, their bottom line matters more than pushing politics.
There is another theory going around. One that merits dissection. Way back in 2015, when Starbucks started their ill-fated “Race Together” campaign, a bad trend emerged.
In March of 2015, Starbucks launched its "Race Together" program where its billionaire white liberal CEO decided its employees would talk about race in America and try to bring unity over an overpriced crap tasting latte. It has been downhill ever since for Starbucks. (The Maven)
According to this report, it looks like Starbucks has enjoyed a steady decline after their terrible campaign. Maybe this is the answer. Starbucks opened Pandora’s box back in 2015, by sticking their necks out for the wrong reason. Americans never forgot and decided to start getting their lattes elsewhere.
Is it possible? I’m not sure. But time and again Starbucks ends up in the center of controversy. Much like Trump. But unlike Trump, they don’t have a knack for turning it around to their advantage. Perhaps this is just the result of years of bad decisions and virtue signaling.
Could be a lesson for all of us.