Starbucks & Guns

Starbucks LogoThis morning I was watching FOX News Channel’s FOX and Friends and the hosts were talking about the recent request by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for customers, even in open carry states, to not bring firearms into the Starbucks stores. I think that’s just the way it ought to be. Private businesses setting policy for their stores, or in this case just making a request of their customers, instead of the government mandating it. Then, let the public decide if their policies reflect the values of a company they’d like to do business with.  In the case of carrying guns into a Starbucks, I think it’s a reasonable request and I don’t think that this issue is a motivator for very many consumers, even very pro-gun people like me. So, I don’t think it will amount to much one way or another. 

The discussion on FOX this morning got me to thinking about other issues. This principle can be applied to a number of other high-profile issues that have been in the headlines recently. From wedding cakes to chicken sandwiches to advertising campaigns – it seems like there is always a boycott or PR stunt of some sort going on to protest one corporate policy or another. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately, and I have come to believe that the public relations battles are good things. Public relations battles are way better than public policy or legislative battles any day. Let the public decide what corporate policies they are willing to support, and what policies will cause them to take their business elsewhere. Don’t legislate it.

I think that a lot of regulations and things such as non-discrimination laws or gun control laws limit our freedom to live free in a free society. In the case of non-discrimination laws, I think that in 2013 people should be free to discriminate if they want to. I think it’s a very stupid business practice, but people should be free to be stupid. They should be prepared to accept the public relations consequences of their discrimination and the impact on their bottom line, because our society has decided that discrimination of any kind isn’t something that we should support.

There are other issue where the same principle can be applied. I think the same could go for polluters, or companies who ship jobs over seas, or any other unpopular business practice. Go ahead, do it. Then face the consequences when the public decides against you and your business dries up. That’s the market at work in our free society.

I haven’t always thought this way. I used to lobby for more government regulations and protections against anti-gay discrimination.  Now, I think enough is enough. Now I draw the line now against more government – no matter how worthy the intent.

Now back to Starbucks, I have to share a kinda funny, kinda related story – A few years ago a friend of mine was in a Starbucks. She was putting some Splenda in her coffee and took the opportunity to put a few extra Splenda packets in her purse for another time. That’s when she saw the store manager looking at her. The manager didn’t say anything, and my friend left the store with her coffee.

The fact that the manager had seen my friend taking extra Splenda’s with her began to eat at her. She felt so guilty that she went to the grocery store and bought a box of Splenda to take to the Starbucks to replace what she had taken.  When she got to the store, she went up to the same manager and apologized and presented her with a new box of Splenda.  The manager replied something like this, “Oh, everybody takes the Splenda! I was looking at you because the man next to you had a gun, and I wasn’t sure if we were about to be robbed!  I was trying to get your attention to try to make you aware of the situation.” Ha!

So, now with the “no guns” request, Starbucks store managers can go back to policing the Splenda supplies and spend less time worrying about whether their gun carrying customers are about to rob them. BUT hopefully they’ll have a gun behind the counter for their protection – just in case.





4 Replies to “Starbucks & Guns”

  1. Agree, it is better to allow the market system to work than attempt government intervention and correction which often fails.

    I also agree on the issue of whether a baker should be allowed to “discriminate” and not sell same-gender wedding cakes. It should be his/her choice and allow the public to decide whether or not to patronize that shop, not some new law.

    The same should apply to churches and religious organizations to decide whether to provide a “blessing” to a nuptial of a same-gender or opposite-gender couple or not. Many churches already have prohibitions for example against “church weddings” for those who are divorced or non-church members. Those wishing to have a wedding ceremony can determine whether to attend that church or not if turned down by the minister/priest/rabbi/imam etc.

    Going on 9 years in a same-gender relationship in a state that has a law against allowing same-gender marriage, I understand the issue very well. I also grew up “in the church” with my father and grandfather being ministers. I also grew up in the late 50s, the 60s and the 70s, long before we were allowed to be or understand who we are as individuals. I have learned to live “in the system” and change it from within and people’s minds and thoughts one-on-one by the life I and my partner live rather than trying to demand government “force” acceptance, when government has never been able to regulate people’s minds, emotions or biases.

    Again agree with your take.

    1. In 2013, do think that a business should be able to refuse to serve gay people. It wasn’t always the case, but I think that non-discrimination laws have outlived their usefulness. In the case of the baker in Oregon facing jail time and fines, I think the correct thing eventually happened there. Their business dried up and they were forced to close. It wasn’t government action that hurt them most, it was the public’s reaction to their discrimination. Everyone stopped buying cakes from them. That sends a louder message than any law.

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