My Letter to the New Starbucks CEO

Dear Mr. Narasimhan:

As a shareholder, I am appalled at the 1930’s union busting tactics of Starbucks. (note article link)

I am absolutely dumbfounded as to why a company dedicated to the Fair trade coffee growing practices in developing countries cares so little about it’s employees rights.

This could have been completely prevented by TREATING YOUR EMPLOYEES MUCH BETTER. Note that companies like Costco (a discount warehouse) has high employee retention, low employee theft, and actually walks the walk (not just talk) on valuing their employees.

You can fix this, because, as my grandmother said, “This fish stinks from the head”. This is a polite way of saying you have a management failure at the top.

Unionization is not the enemy, bad management practices in dealing with unionization are. I have more examples of this, but i hope you are smart enough to “get the picture”. Better management decisions on wages and benefits will quell union organizing (Happy employees don’t unionize), keep stores open, and get you better press.  It would also keep the Federal Government from launching expensive investigations into your possible illegal behavior.  It would also be nice if you stopped the “big brother” surveillance on employees – customers don’t like that either. (are we next)?

Starbucks is not “to big to fail”. And I do want a hefty dividend and return on my investment in Starbucks as an investor.

Hoping you are smart enough to make the right kind of changes,

Alan Chenkin, MPA
Investor, customer, Management Professional

Las Vegas Economist Believes fees are turning away Las Vegas visitors

I found this article spot on:

The corporations that run the big hotels have no interest in dropping fees or increasing comps.

IMHO, Vegas always had an “upside surprise”

-Outrageous themes and events (pools, sky needle, corny casinos, lots of giveaways and freebies). Not to mention inexpensive food (to lure and keep you at the casino).

-Exciting free venues (show me something cool, give me a free/discounted drink, and I will gladly visit your casino)

-The possibility of winning some money (I used to see people holding up the big check with $100k, $50k, etc.)

-Comps just from talking to the pit boss (they could toss you a comped meal without checking your point balance or fear of being fired for being nice to low rollers)

When I went to Vegas 20 years ago, you felt you got more for your money than you do today. Vegas was a VALUE destination; not just gaming, not just canals and water-shows, but you knew people who had a good time and made a few bucks! They were living, breathing advertisements for going back. Often.

Look at Vegas today:

Big fluctuations on room rates, many non-refundable, and those !$#@!! Resort fees.

Winning “big” (more than a couple of hundred) is almost nil. slot psychology, progressives, and high-dollar tables take your money faster with no emotional payback, except for some flashing lights.

Expensive food ($40 breakfast buffets, Starbucks coffee is $4 at the Casino and $2 off strip) and coupons that don’t really give you a significant discount.

Comps based on loyalty cards, so you have to stay in one casino to boost your points or spread your gaming around and get minimal, non-usable points from the Casinos you just visit and spend an few bucks on.

The New Vegas has dropped the “little guy” from their radar – the price gouging (no matter how well justified) will keep them gambling at the local casinos (the ones near me have free parking and lots of giveaways), and a good cross-section of eateries that are there to keep the gamblers happy – not to be an additional profit center for the casino.

Vegas may be overdue for a big downturn in revenue (again) and will have to re-invent itself to keep the convention traffic and Vegas-loving regular folks a reason to visit. We need, first and foremost, to look at the Vegas “Value Proposition” – fun, outrageous hotels, inexpensive but good food, lots of comps and giveaways, and not going broke on your first day and having to put everything on your charge card (a monthly reminder that you spent way too much).

This crazy place in the desert holds an attraction that is being chipped away by profiteering and corporate greed.

If you are not sure that this can be done, look at the way Disney manages their guest experience.

The cumulative effect of this profit-taking makes it harder to return to Vegas – and not once a year like I used to.


In light of recent events, does it matter that Starbucks has views on how to treat customers?

Starbucks is a big company. They Lead their industry. I care that they care about their employees, their stores, their customers, and suppliers (Fair trade coffee). I buy their products, and I invest in their company 

We see the egregious behavior of many “successful” companies and the way they treat their employees, and promote views based on their religion or feelings on women’s rights, sexual orientation, labor costs, unionization, the environment, etc.
As examples:
This is why you should care too. I want my friends and their families to work in environments where companies value their employees, their customers, and the communities where they earn their money. Enron ended with bankruptcies, divorces, suicides, and financial losses for investors.  (To see books from Amazon on the Enron scandal, click here.  There is a movie too, “The Smartest Guys in the Room).
I think it is time for all of us to “grow a pair”, and educate ourselves on the real cost of these corporate behaviors that hurt individuals, promote unhealthy living, and denigrate segments of society without cause or compassion, and pollute with impunity. I am an American and believe in what the founders sought – Freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. SO – I care! And I believe you should too.
It’s not all bad – Here are a few companies worth noting:

5 Big Brands Making the World a Better Place – Wise Bread

To see books on Corporate Ethics from Amazon, click here.

You may not care, and that is your choice, but I do. Putting my money where my mouth is, and hoping the world will be a better place for it.

Disclaimer: I own starbucks stock and usually have a tall Pikes with 2%milk.

Click here for Books on Starbucks corporation and Howard Schultz, the CEO, from Amazon.

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.  

Has Starbucks Pike Place Roast gone Downhill?

To my knowledge, Pikes Place has not changed. Here is the story of Pikes Place roast, which is celebrating it’s tenth year in production! Celebrating 10 years of Starbucks Pike Place Roast – Starbucks website  Pikes Roast was Introduced in 2008.
Not everybody liked it, note this scathing article in the NY Post: NO PLACE FOR PIKE AT STARBUCKS
While I found Pikes Place Roast to be an acquired taste, it is now one of my preferred brews. I believe this is because I started drinking it regularly, and became accustomed to it’s flavor.
They good news is that if you don’t like the Starbucks experience, most servers will gladly substitute another coffee rather than see you suffer through a bad coffee experience.
May your life be bolder than your brew.


Shameless self promotion: I have a Pinterest section on coffee and food, if you like my point of view.
Got Coffee? Starbucks Pikes Place Roast on Amazon