Skip to main content

Starbucks will partner with local United Way chapters to develop programming for each remodelled community store, such as youth job training classes or mentorship groups.

Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press

Starbucks Corp. is expanding a program that tries to help low-income communities by opening coffee shops and hiring local workers.

The Seattle-based company plans to open or remodel 85 stores by 2025 in rural and urban communities across the United States. That will bring to 100 the total number of community stores Starbucks has opened since it announced the program in 2015. Each store will hire local staff – including construction crews and artists – and will have dedicated community event spaces.

Starbucks will also partner with local United Way chapters to develop programming for each store, such as youth job training classes or mentorship groups.

Story continues below advertisement

Starbucks opened its first community store in Ferguson, Mo., in 2016, two years after devastating riots that came after the shooting of an unarmed black man by police. It has opened 13 other locations since then, including stores in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, New Orleans and Jonesboro, Ga. Another store will open this spring in Prince George’s County, Md. Starbucks estimates the stores have created more than 300 jobs.

All of the stores are in the U.S., although Starbucks says some franchisees in other countries, including Thailand and China, have also opened community stores.

Starbucks says most of the 85 stores will be new, but some will be remodels of existing stores. The company will consider various factors – including youth unemployment rates and low median household income – in deciding where to build them.

John Kelly, Starbucks’ executive vice-president of public affairs and social impact, says the stores reflect Starbucks’ core belief in responsible capitalism. The stores are profitable, he said, and have the same menu and prices as regular Starbucks stores.

“This is not charity. These are successful stores,” Mr. Kelly said. “We’re defying a lot of the stereotypes and we’re proud to do so.”

Panera Bread had similarly tried to appeal to low-income communities by opening pay-what-you-can restaurants in 2010, but all of them have closed.

Starbucks also learned lessons from previous efforts. In 1998, the company partnered with Earvin (Magic) Johnson to develop stores in urban neighbourhoods, but some closed because they weren’t economically viable. Mr. Kelly said Starbucks wants its new stores to be more connected to their communities.

Story continues below advertisement

“All of these programs are with the intent of being purposeful and profitable. It does not do a community any good to close a store,” Mr. Kelly said.

Starbucks learned that it has to partner with local leaders and groups such as United Way so it can understand what each community needs. The company also recognizes there will be skeptics when its brand comes to town, so it tries to reach out and show them what a store can do for the local economy.

“We love that conversation because it makes us a better company and it makes the programming we do more successful,” he said.

Related topics

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies