Starbucks will close 8,000 stores the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias training. The closure is a response to the arrest of two black men at a store in Philadelphia. The two men hadn’t purchased anything and were waiting for a friend when police were called. Video of the arrest quickly went viral and caused a backlash on social media calling for a boycott.
The decision to close stores for training is being called unprecedented, but this is actually the second time the company has done this, and also not the only company.
In 2008, Starbucks shut its doors nationwide for training efforts, this time for quality. The chain was struggling at the time and the training was to improve the “Starbucks experience.” The shutdown focused on technical training and customer service.
Other chains have also closed stores in the wake of a scandal. In 2016, Chipotle closed for a day for food safety training following an E-coli scare.
The decision has been met with mixed reactions, some saying the chain should do more while others seem to think the actions of one employee shouldn’t reflect on the brand as a whole. Some simply see the closure as a publicity measure and wonder how effective it will actually be.
Licensed stores, the locations inside Targets, Barnes & Noble Bookesellers, and hotels will have access to the training materials later on. The closure could cost the chain tens of millions of dollars but could also gain back the trust of Starbucks’ customer base.