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Now, that might be changing.
One year after Starbucks opened its first store in Ferguson, Missouri, success of the store and others in low-income communities is helping challenge assumptions of what the “typical” Starbucks looks like.
In Ferguson, where 22% of people live below the poverty line, the Starbucks store is turning a profit and has seen 15% sale growth since opening, with a low rate of turnover among employees, according to the company.
The Ferguson store is one of five shops Starbucks has opened in low-income areas in the last year. The other stores are in places like East Baltimore; Jamaica, Queens; and Englewood in Chicago’s Southside — areas where Starbucks hopes to contribute to economic revitalization by providing jobs, worker training programs, and partnerships with local women- and minority-owned businesses. Starbucks has committed to opening at least 15 of these stores by 2018.
Of course, 15 stores represents a tiny percentage of the coffee giant’s 25,000 locations. But Rodney Hines, Starbucks’ director of community investments for US retail operations, says that he believes that the lessons learned in these stores will help inform where Starbucks opens the 10,000 new shops it has planned globally in the next five years.
Hines says turning a profit has always been central to the plan of opening stores in lower-income communities.
“When we look at the true value and the intent of these stores, we’ve tried to break it…