The cafe chain announced that stores in Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Portland, Oregon, would no longer be open by the end of last month, noting that “we are closing some stores in locations that have experienced a high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate," a spokesperson told CNN Business in an email last month.
Employees are "seeing firsthand the challenges facing our communities—personal safety, racism, lack of access to healthcare, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use, and more," Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, both senior vice presidents of US operations, wrote in a letter to employees last month. They added that ”with stores in thousands of communities across the country, we know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too."
The moves have come as Starbucks has seen a strong push by workers to unionize, something that CEO Howard Schultz has personally discouraged them from doing. Starbucks Workers United Seattle in a tweet last month questioned whether the company acted in good faith in closing down one of its locations.