So, this isn’t about boycotts or putting Starbucks out of business, Mr. Schultz. This is about a small business owner, Dave McLaughlin, fighting for the life of his coffee shop, Safari Cup, in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. He’s fighting for his life and livelihood, and those of his employees because the Starbucks across the street, at least by appearances, is trying to put him out of business. This, this is about community, good neighbors and harmony. This is about the free market, as it benefits customers, not the free-market that allows for predatory capitalism. This is about everybody playing nice in their corner of the sandbox.
Previously the relationship between Safari Cup and that Starbucks location was one of harmony. There was no animosity. There was plenty enough business for both businesses to survive and do well on. Safari Cup tolerated its competition amiably enough. That the relationship has now changed to acrimony and mistrust, soon to affect the neighborhood and which is already drawing battle lines, is due entirely to the threat by Starbucks to bully Safari Cup out of business.
Recently you wrote in an open letter to the nation, stating, that millions “of Americans are out of work. Many more are working tirelessly yet still unable to adequately care for their families. Our veterans are not being welcomed home with the level of support they deserve. Meanwhile, in our nation’s capital, our elected leaders are continuing to put ideology over real solutions. I love America, but we all know there is something wrong…Let’s ask our business leaders to create more job opportunities for the American economy”
I do not know you, but trust you at your word that those sentiments are sincere and heartfelt. At least I would prefer to believe that, and might if the actual practice and strategy of the company didn’t seem to contradict those words. There is a culture emerging that perceives Starbucks as a belligerent neighbor, overtly and aggressively targeting small and independent competition for destruction and ruin. There is a culture emerging that refers to Starbucks as “the Green Cancer.”
I am inviting you onto my radio show this Sunday to champion your own words, and to respond directly to the concern that your company is so blinded by greed and the unquenchable thirst for higher and higher profits that Starbucks simply ignores the good words you offered to the nation; words that many Americans, including myself, find common cause with. In that conversation I would hope that we can find some common understanding between Starbucks and Safari Cup. Does, afterall, Starbucks the corporation need to drive Safari Cup from business? How much profit is enough? When does the pursuit of profit become perverse and cruel?
Already this issue by those coming to the defense of a beleaguered friend and neighbor has taken hold on Twitter, on Facebook, on the radio and in blogs. The more the public becomes aware and sympathizes with Safari Cup, the more damage will be done to the Starbucks brand and reputation, driven by the apparent bully-tactics of your company, or at least by some within your company. Understandable, but certainly avoidable, the term “the Green Cancer” will become more and more synonymous with Starbucks.
I will make whatever time is necessary for you this Sunday, December 9th between 8-9 am on WCPT, Chicago’s Progressive Talk. You are welcome to to join us in the studio or on the phone at 773-763-9278 for a respectful but earnest conversation. What I can promise is that while the blatant threat by Starbucks to drive Safari Cup out of business the resolve of a growing community of supporters and friends will continue and grow.
Catch 900poundgorilla’s WC Turck, with cohost Brian Murray every Sunday 8-9am only on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT am820 and streaming live for the Revolution and Beer segment, as Brian and I sample the Craft Beer of the week with the Our Town gang, and run down the grassroots calendar for the week. If you’re tired of talk, talk, talk radio, this is do something radio. Get involved.