Don’t Become the Next Starbucks or Nordstrom. Have this Simple Conversation with Your Managers Right Now.

“If the customer were white, would you be acting that way?” This is the simple conversation starter that can prevent racial problems in stores and restaurants.

Nordstrom Rack president, Geevy Thomas, flew to St. Louis to personally apologize to three black teenagers who were accused of shoplifting and even had the police called on them, when, in fact, they were simply shopping.

The three teenagers, Mekhi Lee, Dirone Taylor, and Eric Rogers, described having their every move followed by two store employees. As if that wasn’t enough, after they made purchases and headed out the door, police were waiting for them.

In April, Starbucks made headlines when a store manager called police on two black men who were sitting in the store and had not purchased anything, saying they were waiting for a friend. Waiting for a friend to arrive before purchasing a drink is extremely common Starbucks behavior. Yet, it escalated into arrests of the two men. (Notably, these two men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson settled with the City of Philadelphia for $1 each and  $200,000 for a program for young entrepreneurs. That’s classy.)

To keep reading, click here: Don’t Become the Next Starbucks or Nordstrom. Have this Simple Conversation with Your Managers Right Now.

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Become the Next Starbucks or Nordstrom. Have this Simple Conversation with Your Managers Right Now.

  1. Dante & Rashon lost me when they claimed they feared for their lives. So scared! They were asked to leave – afraid!

    1. They were afraid once the police got involved. And with the history black men have of being shot by police for no reason, this was a reasonable fear.

    2. They had the police called on them which is a legitimate threat to their lives. Their fear seems justified to me.

    3. You appear to be demonstrating the very implicit bias highlighted in the story.

  2. I have a good friend who’s from a Mexican family. She’s always fashionably and expensively dressed. She loves shopping for clothes. And she refuses to patronize Nordstrom. She says she’s had several very nedpgative experiences there based, she believes, on her ethnicity.

    Aside from avoiding bad publicity or simple human decency, this sort of foolishness seems remarkably short sighted in terms of revenue. Especially here in Southern California! Why wouldn’t you want the money of anyone willing to shop in your store?

    1. No one is making assumptions. The point of the question is that if the person can honestly say “yes” then it’s probably ok. In the Starbucks case, we can almost certainly say that the answer would have been no, since the two guys in question were not the only one to wait for their friend to show up, but the only ones to have the police called on them. Same for what happened at Nordstrom.

  3. Wait…


    Can we ignore that poor people are a lot likely to shoplift comparing to the rich? If there’s a group of people with a common attribute that’s a lot more likely to shoplift, shouldn’t that group be watched more carefully? Especially if it’s not a “protected” group in a legal sense?

    1. If you think you can look at someone and decide on the spot whether they’re “poor” you’re deluding yourself.

      And I’d like to see your reference to your statement that poor people are more likely to shoplift, please.

  4. Having worked in retail for a long time, one learns how to spot individuals who are shoplifters as they all have certain telltale actions, plus if the store has cameras, you can always view that view to verify. Aside from that, looks have nothing to do with who looks suspicious. I have seen all kinds of individuals steal, including the elderly.
    As for feeling frightened by a person because of appearance, that comes from a memory ingrained in the unconscious part of our mind. Again in both these situations, Starbucks, and Nordstroms, you have to look at the neighborhood of both those stores to explain the store staff reactions. If a certain number of clientele like the ones arrested had previously harassed the crew, then the crew will be more leary.
    Starbucks, notoriously, allows loitering, especially by people who use it as a face for their business but common sense by users, they should purchase or let the staff know they will be once their group arrives as it isn’t a public facility like the indoor food court in a shopping mall. Again in that situation, communication by both, the manager and those individuals could have been done differently.
    As for the fear, a black person has when authorities are called on them for simply being black, that is based on real-life situations and prejudices that still prevail. Nordstroms is a high-end store and certain stores get over-reactive when persons don’t appear within their “normal” customer appearance even if they are as rich if not richer. I always have to dress up to walk into the store to not be bothered by security. Now I use their online site more and don’t have to deal with this. That’s just an inherent leftover policy from their history. Besides the new customers of today’s era like to browse more than they buy which is a problem keeping stores looking good.
    If customers are going to be rude and obnoxious, but the company needs the business to stay afloat, they will give their staff appropriate training and techniques to deal with customers. If you don’t like dealing with customers, then get out of retail.

    1. But, Starbucks is a “public” place, in the sense that it is subject to the public accommodations laws than ban discrimination based on race, etc.

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