Starbucks takes a stand…or does it?

​By T.J. Winick, Solomon McCown Vice President While you may like your latte extra hot, Starbucks is now asking its customers to refrain from packing heat. On Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz wrote an open letter saying guns are no longer welcome–though stopping short of an all-out ban. In fact, not wanting to put their staff in harm’s way, the coffee giant won’t enforce the policy. So why even mention it? To act as a deterrent? Perhaps. But it seems to be primarily about perception and corporate reputation. Starbucks isn’t your corner coffee shop. They have 12,000 stores in the U.S. alone. They’re held to a higher standard and what they say matters. They’ve carved out a reputation as a solid and progressive corporate citizen: providing health benefits to part-time workers and taking a leadership role in important social causes. But the company had found its neutral stance on the gun debate co-opted by gun rights activists, who had started holding “Starbucks Appreciation Days” by bringing their firearms to the neighborhood store. Such a day intended for the Newtown, Connecticut outpost of Schultz’s empire earlier this summer forced the CEO to take a stand in a fight he likely would have rather sat out. Schultz concedes, "…we know we cannot satisfy everyone." Which raises the question: Are they satisfying anyone? Starbucks is telling the public to leave their guns at home… but will happily serve anyone who doesn’t comply. While the intention may be to placate both gun-rights and gun-control activists, the result could have just the opposite effect: angering those that believe in the right to bear arms AND not doing enough to satisfy those customers who don’t want to mix guns with their cup o’ joe.

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