Starbucks targets low- and middle-income communities, starting with new Bed Stuy location

Posted On Thu, April 5, 2018 By

Posted On Thu, April 5, 2018 By In Bed Stuy, gentrification

Photo of the new Bed-Stuy location, courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks has been all over the map, not only geographically but symbolically. Reactions to a new Starbucks often range from being a welcome addition by caffeine-deprived people to being the face of a large corporation that is a lightning rod for gentrification, threatening mom and pop shops. With 14,163 Starbucks in the US, what street corner doesn’t have a Starbucks? Well, the Bedford-Stuyvesant community didn’t, until now. A Starbucks just took over the location of shuttered local department store, Fat Albert. Is this another example of the big, faceless corporation blazing its way into a community that doesn’t want it?

The team at the Jamaica store, courtesy of Starbucks

City Council member Robert Cornegy says the community is quite mixed over their very first Starbucks. Cornegy explains that since 9/11, the makeup of the neighborhood has changed with the large influx of many Manhattan residents, many worry, this most recent development is more of the same.

But this isn’t your average Starbucks. In fact, it is part of a 2016 corporate initiative of Starbucks’ attempt to open cafes in low- and medium-income communities around the country. And, perhaps not well known, but Starbucks founder Howard Schultz was born in Brooklyn. So the company has come full circle.

Rodney Hines, Starbucks’ Director of Community Investments for U.S. Retail Operations is leading the initiative to open at least 15 cafes with the intent that the stores will be built by local contractors, baked goods will be provided by companies owned exclusively by women and minorities, and the cafes will attempt to hire young employees from within a five-mile radius. According to a Forbes article, “the stores are meant to be a key cog in Starbucks’ mission to hire 10,000 Opportunity Youth, residents between 16 and 24 facing systemic barriers to meaningful employment and education while boosting local economies.”

As amNY reports, “The first launched in Jamaica, Queens, in early 2016, setting an example for five other outposts in Ferguson, Missouri, central Phoenix, Chicago’s Southside, East Baltimore and Long Beach, California.” Since opening, the Queens location has provided retail training to more than 60 youth. In addition, 347 additional youth have been served by the company’s partnerships with Queens Community House (QCH) and YMCA’s Y Roads Centers.

Although Starbucks may have the reputation of leading the gentrification push, this opening is actually quite different. Local leaders and Starbucks’ corporate staff are hoping the community will give it a chance.

[Via amNY]

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Neighborhoods : Bed-Stuy

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