Boycott Watch  
March 8, 2010
Peet's Coffee Boycotted Over Firearms Policy
Summary: Taking a political stance may sound nice, but it can also cost your business big time.
    You can always spot the businesses which don't read the Boycott Watch website - they are the ones which get in trouble with boycotts for doing something really stupid that we have written about countless times. While we have a very large readership in the business community, there is always one company that amazes the Boycott Watch staff by doing exactly what we say is wrong. This past week, that company is Peet's Coffee.

    Media commentator Debbie Schlussel posted the story about how Peet's Coffee, which has nearly 200 stores most of which are in California, issued a no-gun policy in their stores, placing signs which forbid the legal carry of concealed firearms by people with state permits to do so in their stores. The new policy made many gun owners upset, but the real question is why? Not why gun owners are upset, but why Peet's issued the policy in the first place.

    While the San Francisco based company may be based in a predominantly political liberal / progressive city, the recent vote in California to ban gay-marriage indicates that conservatives have a strong presence in the state. Despite that, it is never a businesses best-interest to take a political stance on any issue, lest the company wants to alienate half their potential customer pool. Businesses cannot stay in business by driving customers away. Peet's is in the coffee business and should have said so when asked to get involved in that matter, or any political matter.

    Take for instance the case of Ford and The Advocate magazine, which Boycott Watch reported. When Ford wanted to be good and place ads in the gay magazine, it upset Christians who declared a boycott against Ford. As a result, Ford sales plummeted and so did their stock price. When the ads were finally pulled, the gay community declared a boycott against Ford for pulling the ad, putting Ford in a no-win situation.

    The same basic thing happened with Disney and the "Gay Days" which were declared without any Disney involvement. The fact is when any political group asks a business for support, they are asking for the company's demise via political partisanship that has nothing to do with the company itself, and that is wrong. Businesses have no business getting involved with political hot-button issues because it just alienates half their customer base for no reason. Peet's should have just said "we sell coffee and are not a political company" in response, thus taking no stance at all.

    According to Ohio's Concealed Handgun Law 2009 Annual Report, issued March 1, 2010, Ohio has issued 199,423 concealed carry permits so far out of an estimated 12,000,000 current residents, or 1.6% of the population. This number is actually way higher than Boycott Watch expected, but it also does not mean that everyone with the permit carries a gun all the time. It probably translates to one or two people in Ohio entering any given coffee shop in any given day may be legally carrying a firearm, which is a statistically insignificant. Actual criminals, on the other hand, don't care about signs and are probably carrying guns into stores far more often than the law abiding citizens with permits.

    Concealed carry advocates say that when a business has a no-gun policy posted, they are telling potential criminals that the store owner is unarmed and customers don't have guns either, thus the business becomes an easy target for crime. They also argue that not having any sign means that potential criminals will not now know if the store owner or if any law-abiding customer on the premises may be armed. As such, criminals would rather rob stores with a no-gun policy posted since it is safer for the criminals. Detractors generally say they don't want people with guns near them, primarily because they do not know the intent of the person carrying the gun, but crime statistics are not in their favor. According to the Lima (Ohio) News, concealed carry has reduced crime and made people feel safer. The National Rifle Association agrees and points to nationwide statistics proving concealed carry has reduced violent crime.

    In this case, Peet's Coffee wrongly reacted to a non-issue and is driving away far more customers than would have legally carried guns into their stores. As Boycott Watch has stated in countless articles, it is stupid for companies to take partisan stances on political issues, as it always result in the alienation of customers. People are not politically motivated to specifically choose to buy at a particular store or chain as much as they choose not to buy for political reasons. Boycotts are consumer tools to get companies they regularly buy from to take care of them as customers. In the case of politically-inspired boycotts, as is this one, Peet's Coffee is telling a large number of their potential customers, including those who do not have concealed carry permits, they are not welcome in their stores. Peet's is throwing away thousands and thousands of sales every day for no reason. That's not good for business and especially not good for the shareholders of this publicly traded company, PEET on Nasdaq.

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