Is closing stores the best solution to Starbucks’ security concerns? – RetailWire

Jul 18, 2022

Starbucks, citing security concerns, said it permanently close 16 sites nationwide before the end of July as implementation of new procedures to ensure the well-being of employees.

Locations include six in Seattle and Los Angeles, two in Portland, and one in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Workers can be transferred to nearby cafes.

In a letter last week to employees, two Starbucks senior vice presidents of operations, Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, wrote that staff members “see firsthand the challenges facing our communities – personal safety, racism, lack of access to health care, growing mental health crisis, increase in drug use and more. With stores in thousands of communities across the country, we know these challenges can sometimes arise in our stores as well. We read every incident report you file, that’s a lot.

The letter said stores could adjust sizes, change hours, close restrooms or close permanently “where safety in third place is no longer possible”. Further safety training, including when to call 911 and “active shooter” procedures, is planned. The letter read, “Simply put, we can’t serve as partners if we don’t feel safe at work.”

In a video from a corporate meeting, Founder Howard Schultz slammed local, state and federal officials for their failure to tackle crime and tackle mental illness which he said were the catalysts closures. Specifically, Schultz spoke out against drug use in store bathrooms.

“It shocked me that one of our retail partners’ primary concerns is their own personal safety,” Schultz said. “America has become dangerous.”

Mr. Schultz, who returned as interim CEO in April, has made safety a priority.

About 300 employees of Starbucks US stores have been asking to unionize since last December. Of the 16 are about to close, two have joined a union and another has asked to do so. Starbucks denied claims that the closures were linked to organizing efforts.

Last week, 7-Eleven headquarters encouraged local Los Angeles franchises to close after five armed robberies at area locations left two people dead. Last October, Walgreens closed five San Francisco stores frequently targeted by organized robbery rings.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Starbucks’ decision to close 16 locations is likely measured and necessary gesture, a political statement, an anti-union ploy or something else? What other options could Starbucks and other retailers explore for stores facing ongoing disruptive incidents?


“Do you see that Starbucks’ decision to close 16 locations is probably a measured and necessary decision, a political statement, an anti-union ploy or something else?”

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