Starbucks may finally be returning to a good business practice

Ah, Starbucks.  Were a visitor from another planet to visit the United States, he might well conclude there was a law that there must be a Starbucks on every street in the country.  Overpriced, oversweetened, a hangout for the homeless, and a bastion of liberal sentiment, it might seem to the alien visitor that Starbucks needs such a law just to stay in business.

Starbucks is a place where the bizarre is common.  There was comedian Hotep Jesus, who was treated like royalty when he went into a Starbucks to demand "reparations coffee" because Black Lives Matter.  There was the campaign where baristas were asked to write the words "Race Together" on coffee cups to encourage customers to talk about race.  There was the message from CEO Howard Schultz supporting DACA and refugees, a stance that seems particularly strange considering how badly the company treats its employees.


Image: Starbucks coffee shop by Albi Suminodo.  CC BY-SA 4.0.

One of the most egregious abuses the company has inflicted on its employees is the open bathroom policy.  It has long been a maxim that the customer is always right.  It has also been a given that the customer is someone who pays for goods and services.  Starbucks broke that longstanding tradition back in 2018, when CEO Shultz declared that he didn't want the coffee chain "to become a public bathroom," but he also didn't want people to feel they were "less than."  What he meant by that is anyone's guess, because he did make Starbucks a public bathroom, where anyone could come in to use the bathroom and hang out as long as he wanted without purchasing anything.

After four years, Mr. Schultz is suddenly realizing that catering to people who are not customers is not actually a good business model.  His sanctimonious announcement that Starbucks should end its public bathroom policy in order to provide a safe environment for the people who work at the store and the customers who actually pay money to the store is long overdue.

Pandra Selivanov is the author of The Pardon, a story of forgiveness based on the thief on the cross in the Bible. 

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