This “change” in policy honestly comes as no surprise. Back in 2010, Starbucks originally did the right thing by their customers and the law by stating their stores would obey the laws of the local jurisdictions with respect to open carry. That was a bold statement for a publicly traded company considering the fact so many of their stores are independently owned franchises and it meant corporate was dictating policy to private business owners. Not every partner was happy with this policy but, the Starbucks brand is so big that few were going to just walk away from a cash cow.
Some (not all) in the Open Carry movement took this statement as “support” from Starbucks and began organizing open carry events at Starbucks stores. It was anything but support. It was simply a notice of compliance with the law and nothing more. Not every partner was OK with this and many of the folks in the stores were simply too kind to say “No.” The events were certainly peaceful but, in more than a few places, it also drove away business and that nothing changes corporate policy faster than a hit in the profit margin.
The issue snowballed for Starbucks. First it was anti-gun counter protests which are rarely productive but, soon enough it turned into and social media campaigns and boycotts organized by state wide Democratic parties as well as as the usual anti-gun groups. Starbucks business partners and share holders started making noises too and this left Starbucks in a bad spot. All you have to do is listen in on an investors’ conference call when numbers are announced at the end of a financial quarter. The issue doesn’t come up every quarter but, it has come up and it’s never good when investors are worried about the political stance of a publicly traded company.
So again, to me it was just a matter of time. Sometimes, when you poke the bear, you suffer the consequences. While we should have the right to choose to carry openly, it is clear that by openly flaunting that right in the general public, some have unwittingly created hostile environments for people who might otherwise have at least been neutral if not supportive to their cause. This policy change is the result. And while there are those who will take the attitude that this does not matter, public perception is everything and the firearms community needs every ally it can get. A string of recent political victories does not constitute a war that is won. At the end of the day, Starbucks is not the first company to choose profit over political neutrality, and they won’t be the last.