News & Politics

Starbucks to Open in Ferguson

(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

A Starbucks will be opening on Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri.

The opening of the Starbucks in Ferguson, one of 15 that the company pledged last year to open in low-income or predominantly minority neighborhoods, may be the most high-profile step in CEO Howard Schultz’s campaign to address income and racial inequality in America. The Ferguson store launch follows the opening last month of a Starbucks in an ethnically diverse pocket of the Queens borough in New York.

Most of the staff in the new store come from close by, so the company is providing jobs in the community.

At the new Ferguson store, all but a couple of members of the opening day staff come from within a five mile radius of the shop. Starbucks used a local, minority-owned contractor to build the shop, and created a multi-use space within the store that they will lend to non-profits, including the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, to conduct job training programs.

The company has entered into a partnership with a local business as well. Natalie’s Cakes, a bakery that was damaged during the Ferguson riots in 2014, now provides caramel cake fore more than 30 Starbucks locations in the St. Louis area. Natalie DuBose, the owner, has grown her roster from six to 22 employees.

“It shows that people still care,” DuBose said of Starbucks launch in Ferguson. “After all the media has gone back to their homes, there is still somebody that cares and that is still watching.”

The manager of the Ferguson Starbucks is Cordell Lewis, a local with deep ties to the area. “My number one goal was to have a diverse team,“ Lewis said. “We have all walks in this building–African-American, Asian, white,  male, female,  gay, straight. Religious affiliations that go all over the place. That is Ferguson, that is these small communities, and I want us to really represent that.”

Other corporations — like Anheuser-Busch InBev, Emerson Electric and Walgreens — have invested in Ferguson and African-American communities

Do you think the Starbucks in Ferguson will be successful?