Why I Don't Visit Starbucks Anymore

Posted on: 2013-02-17 17:01:58

Confession: I used to be a Starbucks addict.

At one point several years ago, I was going twice a day and getting Venti latt├ęs to feed my work schedule. Let's face the facts. Their product is easy to get to, they market themselves well, and they provide a great product with great service as well. Their marketing and branding is consistent and clean. Their many, many locations make it extremely convenient to find a location and get something to drink. Have I mentioned their food selection? Quite a spread... and I absolutely love their pumpkin-cream cheese muffins between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plus when their mobile app came out, I was an instant convert and loved that I no longer had to keep track of my rewards card. Heck, they even support the 2nd amendment.

At this point, you might be asking yourself, "What's not to like?" Well, leave it to the conversation that has been gripping the nation ever more tightly to be the answer to the question. There is actually a very good reason why I don't visit or patronize Starbucks anymore.

Starbucks supports same-sex marriage.

I don't agree with their stance. Therefore, I've decided not to patronize them anymore. That's not to say that I won't drink a Starbucks drink if it is offered to me or given as a gift (especially if that person didn't know about my choice). I just don't want to spend my money with them. Also, several of my friends know about my position and still go there. If you don't agree with me, then you obviously don't have a reason to follow in my footsteps. If you do, however, you should consider signing the petition.

Most people who ask or I tell this to usually responding in one of a couple of ways. So in case anyone is wondering and listening, here are some responses with my comments.

"Yeah, but they support gun-rights!"

And I'm really grateful for that. However when it comes to the bigger picture, the degrading of marriage in the US is a much bigger, foundational problem. It trumps the gun stuff.

"You're just a bigot who doesn't support equal rights!"

Although the answer to this riposte could be much longer, I offer my short version: Firstly, the word "bigot" is highly overused and polarizing. That is, when put in context, it corners people and automatically puts them on the defensive and is used by folks who have something to prove to demonize their opposition. A bigot is someone who mindlessly shouts slurs at people out of ignorance and/or hatred. That's not my sauce. Secondly, and to further my point, the conversation is not about equal rights. It's not even about rights.

I disagree with a viewpoint. That is no reason to call me names or to slander me. Personal attacks hurt you and your argument by taking the discussion away from the subject matter and making people like me believe you have a faulty argument and so you have no other recourse but to name-call. If you want people like me to listen, have a discussion -- don't name-call.

"That's just in Washington state, though."

Well, that's what I initially thought as well, but as the memo states, they're committed to "helping to raise awareness about issues in the communities where we live and work." The problem is that often times, raising awareness means dealing with ordinances that give LGBT folks preferential treatment when dealing with folks whom they claim are discriminating against them. I'll end this by saying that in my own research, these ordinances are ripe for abuse and are only further causes for polarization.

At any rate, I didn't stop going to Starbucks until after I read this. More on this below.

"Yeah, but if you stopped supporting every business who supports 'marriage equality', you'd have to stop buying stuff."

Yeah. That's true to a degree. Apple, as my number one example, gave $100,000 to fight prop 8 in California. To my knowledge, they've not been active anywhere else. I think to some degree that has more to do with where they are vs. who they are. Apple, thus far, is actually a fairly apolitical company. I hope they keep it that way. But sometimes there is very little choice.

Let's look at it another way.

Our tax dollars support a government whose associates, employees, soldiers, or agents have been called baby killers, evil, corrupt, and probably far worse. You still pay taxes, right? Sometimes we can't escape it -- and the other alternatives are far too inconvenient or unreasonable.

So, yes, when I can make the choice, I do choose businesses that remain apolitical or sway with my political leaning. And I encourage you to do the same thing. That's your right as a citizen. Go spend money where you want to go spend it, but don't go and badmouth others just because you don't agree with them.

Two More Things...

Although there are some obvious downsides, there are some upsides that I've discovered over the past few months.

It's forced me outside of a comfort zone

I'm one of those people who finds something good and sticks with it. I'm not gonna lie. I miss Starbucks sometimes. However, I've had some great experiences at small, local coffee shops as well. For instance, last week I stopped at this place in Rogers, AR. I've also stopped at and enjoyed coffee from here, here, here, and here. Cheaper and (in most cases) far better than what I could have gotten at the old 'bucks. Yeah, it's a little more work, but I'm supporting local businesses and getting some stuff I would never have been exposed to otherwise.

Better for my pocketbook

I spent way too much money at Starbucks. Not going has saved me (by this time) probably hundreds of dollars. Which is good.

Anyhoo. I'm not starting an anti-Starbucks cult. I'm not trying to convince everyone they should stop going to Starbucks, either. What I am trying to say is that it is okay for you to disagree and go somewhere else to spend your money. Would I stand in front of a Starbucks with a sign that included slurs or demeaning language? Absolutely not. But I do believe in being truthful about how I feel and letting others know (reasonably) about the way I feel.