Is anyone else detecting a decidedly partisan pattern coming out of Starbucks these days? Oh… that’s a silly question. You’ve been detecting it for years. But much like everyone else trying to leap onto the bandwagon, the coffee chain giant decided to jump feet first into the immigration executive order action this week, putting out a statement to all of the employees, er… I mean, “partners.”
The first part of the statement is simple enough and nothing I would take issue with. It has to do with advice to and support for any employees who may be on travel and have trouble getting back in the country because of their visa status, etc. (Also family members of workers.) No problem there. But then, rather than stopping with some human resources housekeeping, the CEO decides to wax poetic on the deplorable state of the nation.
We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question. These uncertain times call for different measures and communication tools than we have used in the past. Kevin and I are going to accelerate our commitment to communicating with you more frequently, including leveraging new technology platforms moving forward. I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack, and want to use a faster, more immediate form of communication to engage with you on matters that concern us all as partners.
So as soon as the “other party” takes power, the American Dream Is Being Called Into Question. I’m sure they have plenty of young liberals working for them, particularly on the coasts, but Starbucks is all over the nation. What about the workers who don’t feel that way? What about the “partners” working for barely above minimum wage who are actually relieved that some change is coming and just perhaps some new employment opportunities aside from being a barista will be opening up? Were I one of those people I wouldn’t be feeling particularly welcome at my place of employment right about now. (Hey, wait a minute here. I wonder if they could demand safe spaces and sue for more benefits to make up for the hostile working conditions? It always seems to work for liberals.)
For that matter, what should customers think of this stance? That’s fine if you happen to agree, but a large part of the country doesn’t. I’m not one to call for boycotts because frankly I don’t believe in them. But the market will do what the market will do, and after being informed that my kind wasn’t very popular at Starbucks I imagine I’d be less inclined to go spend my money there, even if I could stomach their very much overpriced, burnt tasting coffee.
But as I said, this isn’t the first time that the corporation has taken a decidedly liberal bent. I find myself wondering if it’s not already having an effect. During the last quarter, as Time recently reported, their sales missed their goals by a fair measure. Of course, Starbucks is blaming it on “overcrowding” at the counter.
It looks like the long lines at Starbucks do more than just frustrate customers.
The coffee chain is blaming “congestion” at its store for disappointing sales growth, the Associated Press reports. The chain’s popular mobile order-and-pay option has prompted “bottlenecks in the areas where people collect their drinks.” And Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who will step down in April, said the issue has “created anxiety” among some customers, according to AP.
Congestion? If the “congestion” in question is too many customers backed up at the pick-up area, that’s generally what folks in the business world think of as a good problem to have. It’s also a fairly easily remedied one. You move some of your employees around to get the product into the consumers’ hands faster or you hire a few more. (They don’t cost that much at a coffee shop.)
So is “congestion” really the problem, or is their growth slowing because they’re ticking off a significant segment of their potential market base? I suppose we’ll have to wait for a while to find out.