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My Open Letter To Starbucks

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Dear Starbucks,
     As I sit here reviewing my film script lines and sipping my fave green tea with organic agave, I know you’re preparing to close thousands of your U.S. locations on the afternoon of May 29th to have racial bias employee training, I want you to know I applaud your efforts to do better with humanity and inclusion of EVERY customer.
     As I reflect on my long term relationship with you, spending most of the time at locations in the Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles areas , I’ve remained fascinated how such an intimate, modest brand continues to be the dominate lead in the coffee shop stop market  and attract the most eclectic, creative and business savvy customers while maintaining a welcoming environment for every customer.
Then, on April 12th, that feeling changed. I felt like you hit me and left me with a “black eye”  when entrepreneurs Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, who was waiting for a business partner at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets in Phildaephia, were taken into custody. One of them had been denied access to the bathroom because he hadn’t purchased anything and then didn’t leave the store when asked too, then management called 911. Police arrive, arrested Nelson and Robinson, and they spent several hours in jail before they were released.
     I immediately recalled a situation where I was writing a voiceover for a documentary at one of your locations in LA when a gentleman who appeared to be handling his own business with spread sheets on the table approached me and said, “Excuse me, you need to make a purchase to use wifi for a period of time.” I immediately asked, “Who are you?” he replied ,with a smile, ” management.” 
    I asked for a business card and immediately went back to my seat and continued typing . I was anxious to type a message to the email on the Starbucks business card to inform “the manager”  that not only am I a weekly spending customer to Starbucks but that I also have a strong relationship with your management team on the east coast because Starbucks is a long term supporter of my annual Grant My Wish Foundation where I camp out in the store for 24 hours to assist underprivileged children.  After receiving the “ding” sound of an incoming email, he read my message, immediately looked up at me, and smiled. Needless to say, we have been friends ever since that encounter as we both realized that our initial encounter didn’t escalate or become a negative experience because of how we chose to “approach”  and communicate with each other. 
    When your CEO, Kevin Johnson, quickly responded to the Philadelphia incident with a national announcement that he was closing all your stores on the same day for employee training, and followed up by allowing patrons to use your restroom without making a purchase, I was happy and realized that your company’s goal is to respect all customers and to continue working to be part of the solution which extends so much further than Starbucks walls.
 
     I also felt good when your District Manager, Curt McBride, wanted to meet with me to discuss my opinion about the Philadelphia management decision and arrest, how to evolve, and ways to improve customer relations. Such a great, open and honest conversation.
     If other CEO’s, managers and people responded this efficiently and compassionately, the world would be a better place for ALL of us who live in it.
     So, I’ll continue to enjoy all your great employee love, coffee, tea, frappuccinos, banana nut bread and other goodies you spoil me with.
                                                                                                                      Your friend,
                                                                                                                      Jeannie “Kitty of the City” Jones