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Starbucks' 'Everyone Invited' Policy Floods Stores With Homeless, Used Needles

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After a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia screwed up big league and had two men arrested while they were waiting for a friend because they wanted to use the bathroom without making a purchase, the Seattle coffee giant has decided the best way to rectify this is to turn the restaurant’s bathrooms into public lavatories, free for everyone.

How, you might ask, could this possibly fail? If you were Bernie Sanders, that is.

Other people were probably more adept at guessing what the problems created by this might be. And, as it turns out, the Wall Street Journal managed to chronicle some of the issues — including drug needles, drug needles, and even more drug needles.

This isn’t the first time that people have decided to mainline inside Starbucks’ bathrooms.

“Drug use wasn’t happening in the bathroom every day, but it was definitely something that was happening once a week. The cops were called a lot,” said Darrion Sjoquist, a 21-year-old former barista who worked in one of the chain’s Seattle stores two years ago.

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He describes getting pricked by a needle once while taking out the trash. At the time, it was bad enough that other Seattle Starbucks employees “asked Starbucks to install Sharps containers — the kind of locked boxes found in doctors’ offices — in the bathrooms, to encourage drug users to properly dispose of their needles.”

While drug use was the biggest problem for employees, “defecation outside the toilets” was also an issue.

How wonderful.

And now, Starbucks will “allow all guests in its U.S. company-operated stores to use its cafes, including its restrooms, whether or not they make a purchase.”

Is Starbucks going to lose customers over its new bathroom policy?

There might be some problems with this new policy, however, in the same way there might be some problems with a wooden space shuttle on re-entry.

“One current barista in New York City said drug use in the bathrooms is a frequent occurrence,” the Journal reported.

“A former Starbucks facilities manager who oversaw several urban stores on the East Coast said those cafes had special kits on hand with rubber gloves, tongs and a box that store employees could use to dispose of needles, adding that employees often found small drops of blood splattered across the toilet and walls.”

The problem is only going to increase when drug addicts — who aren’t known to have a whole lot of money to spend on a chai latte — are allowed access to Starbucks’ bathrooms free of charge. And all of the increased bathroom traffic from people not looking to use it to shoot up will also require more labor to keep it clean.

As the WSJ points out, Starbucks currently ranks 20th out of 62 rated chains on a survey by Consumer Brand Metrics which rated the percentage of respondents who rated the bathroom cleanliness of fast-food chains as “very good.”

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Culver’s and Chick-fil-A ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, while McDonald’s and Little Caesars are the lowest-ranked chains.

Starbucks’ ranking may not seem horrible until you consider the upscale experience that Starbucks seems to promise. Its prices certainly seem to reflect this.

The company is also facing a slowdown in sales and one doubts that “Hypodermic Needle Boxes in the Bathroom” as selections from Starbucks’ “Gentle Indie Acoustic Spring” playlist (available at the counter for $9.99 for anyone who still buys CDs) isn’t going to help much.

All Starbucks really needed to do was apologize for the Philadelphia incident, and either fire the manager or express their deepest regrets, too.

Instead, they’ve taken a big problem and made it worse. This is progressivism in action, folks. Here’s a tip: Take your money to a coffeehouse that cares if people shoot up in their bathrooms.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture