Nationwide Starbucks "reverse boycott", or BUYcott, brings in many generous customers

by Chad D. Baus

On February 14, 2012 gun rights advocates across the country provided an economic stimulus to their local Starbucks stores. The effort came together in response to the January 23 announcement that of a Valentine's Day boycott scheduled by an anti-self-defense group calling itself the "National Gun Victim's Action Council." The group is demanding that Starbucks, which takes a neutral position on concealed carry, change its corporate policy and prohibit guns in the stores.

Once learning of the boycott, gun owners sprang into quick action, organizing a "reverse boycott" and taking a page from the NGVAC by coordinating through Facebook. Support for the "reverse boycott" was so successful that, before Valentine's Day arrived, the NGVAC was reportedly forced to remove the list of boycott participants from public view on its Facebook event page after the tiny number was dwarfed by more than 24,500 Facebook users committing to participate in the "reverse boycott." (What they cannot hide, however, is the tiny number of followers on this supposedly national anti-gun groups' Facebook page - just 258. By comparison, Buckeye Firearms Association has over 11,700.)

Many participants agreed to pay and/or tip with $2 bills to signify support for the Second Amendment. And while it is impossible to measure the exact financial boost the reverse boycott had on Starbucks' bottom line, the anecdotal evidence posted at the Facebook event page for the 'BUYcott' suggests it was substantial. The comments also suggest that most store managers weren't aware of the NGVAC boycott, but they were definitely aware of the increased business thanks to gun owners!

  • "Bought coffee with the wife last night. Had a chat with Barista about 2A. He wasn't aware of the boycott, and agreed that the people with permits aren't the ones you've got to worry about. Left them a nice big tip."
  • "I visited Starbuck's Delmar Loop in University City, MO yesterday. They heard about the BUYcott on the radio that morning!"
  • "Supported today - thanked them for supporting open carry (got some looks from the other customers) the employees gave me a thumbs up and said right on! left a 2.00 tip"
  • "when I went to Starbucks in Springfield today, I didn't have to bring up the buycott, because one barista was already explaining the concept to the other one. I just left a big tip, smiled, and said, "Actually, I'm here to do that, too. A couple of anti-gun groups are trying to start a boycott, and rather than have a silly fight with them, we figure we'll just buy some coffee. Have a great day!"
  • "Drove my buddy and I 100 miles road trip to the nearest Starbucks! Well worth the drive for a company that is bold enough to stand up for our rights! Thank you Starbucks!"
  • It was nice to see a 2 dollar bill in the tip jar at the Valley View, Ohio Starbucks. This Caramel Frap tastes even better today!!
  • "I OCed in three Starbucks today and passed out flyers to the wonderful managers. I was met with nothing but smiles and happy customers. I enjoyed a little too much coffee though..."
  • "Took the advice and I took my wife for coffee this morning. I am pleased to say it was still as busy as normal. I guess the anti-gun group did not have an affect on our area!"
  • Drove down to my local Starbucks open carrying my Taurus Millenium Pro .40 and purchased a normal black coffee. Told the manger and cashier I was there to thank them for their support of the 2A and the cashier says "yeah the right to free speech" lol. I said no that's the first and explained further. Not one person working there had a clue about the boycott, but said had noticed several people carrying guns today. Manager laughed an said it would be a really bad day to rob a SB.
  • "I was traveling from Hartford, CT to Phoenix with a stop in Baltimore. Going through several airports it was obviously not possible to carry. I did wear my "I Love Guns and Coffee" shirt. I received three compliments from TSA agents, two Starbucks girls told me how much they loved my shirt, I received several smiles and nods walking through the airports and best of all, I received two drinks while in flight. One from the Southwest Airlines flight attendant and one from a fellow passenger."
  • "Went to South Bend Indiana Starbuck's. Talk to manager, told him I was there in support of 2a rights and performing a buycott, manager had no idea what was going on and did not even know about the boycott."
  • "my girl and I stopped and got Starbucks earlier.But since then the 24 agents under me made their way to Starbucks as well! All of them including my girl and I made sure the staff knew that we were there to supports their companies decision to accept our right to bear arms! God bless America!!!"
  • "Went with a group of folks to the Starbucks/Targer here in Martinsburg. The counter guy said it had to have been the busiest Tuesday he'd ever seen, and that the drawer was full of $2 bills."
  • I went in Middletown, NY and paid with a $2 and tipped with a $2. One employee noticed.
  • "We went for a Chocolate beverage after our V-Day dinner. My wife mentioned the "Buycott" and the Barista said we were the second cusomter today to mention it to her."
  • "‎25 crisp new $2 bills...which I turned into a $50 Starbucks gift card today"
  • "I made my run to Stabucks today. I didnt pay with 2.00 bills but I went spent some money there and showed my support! Proud American and gun owner!"
  • "We had 19 people show up at our local Starbucks this evening. We also gained one convert who was there on other business, for a total of 20. :D"
  • "I went to two different locations today, bought coffee and food, and personally spoke with the managers to thank them. They were both very appreciative and told me that pro-2nd Amendment customers outnumbered anti-gun protesters by far today. I live in GA - so this may not be true nation-wide. They nevertheless deserve our support."
  • "Spent almost $30 on coffee and snacks with the wife and kid, and tips. The folks in the store had no idea, and the girl who helped us was like, "Are those GUNS????" We said, "Yes, they sure are." She said, "I'm scared!!!!" We looked at her and asked her why she was scared, and then proceeded to explain everything. Paid her with $2 bills, explained WHY I was using $2 bills, and by the time the transaction was done she was saying "cool!" :)"
  • "Two of the gals that work at the Starbucks I visited want me to order shirts for them. Everyone that sees them wants one. I'll be putting in an order tomorrow."
  • "Stopped at two Starbucks today. The ladies at the first were clueless. The ones at the second store were partially aware and very aware when I left. The cashier jokingly complained about all the $2 bills and asked what exactly was going on. I explained and all three of the Baristas said 'Right On!'"
  • "I just went to a local Starbucks here in San Diego, placed my order, and paid for it with $2 bills. Before I handed the money over to the clerk, I asked to see the manager. I let her know why I was in that Starbucks and that I was using those $2 specifically. She had no idea there was supposed to be some "nation wide" boycott of Starbucks today. So much for the gun-grabbers having any real effect on the world."
  • "I purchased a pound of Blonde coffee beans, paid and tipped in $2 bills which opened up a conversation with the cashier and the manager."
  • "Bought my second Venti White Chocolate Mocha in Longview, Texas today. Hey, we have two Starbucks in town, might as well spread the love to all of them. Left a $2 bill and thanked the staff for their principled neutrality on the firearms issue."
  • "Did my part! Spoke to the manager and he was like all supportive!"
  • "Our company bought every employee a Starbucks coffee today in support of this!!"
  • "Didn't see any protesters and the lady that waited on me didn't know anything about it. I explained it to her and she said 'thank you for supporting Starbucks!'"
  • "The wife and I both went to Starbucks in Flower Mound Texas today to show our support for our second amendment rights. Based on the crowd, I'd say, 'Boycott? What Boycott?'."
  • "I found it ver[y] interesting that the Starbucks employees WHERE I WENT didn't even notice that they were being boycotted today.LOL."
  • "My wife, my Sig P239 and I just returned from visiting our local Starbucks in Columbus, Ohio. They were not aware of any boycott. They are now, we "thanked" them for supporting our 2nd amendment rights. I shared with them that this was my first visit and why we stopped in today."
  • "Our Starbucks didn't know anything about it either, but they did when we left, especially after we paid with 2$ bills and tipped with them also."
  • "Closing the tills tonight, I spotted a dozen $2 bills. I also got to have some great conversations with some new customers about Starbucks' policy. Thanks for the support, everyone! It makes me a very happy manager, and proud to be a Starbucks partner."

    The Facebook messages go on, and on, and on, from pro-gun rights activists all over the country. (The "reverse boycott" made news in many states, including Alaska, California and Hawaii.) There are many comments from people who patronized Starbucks for the very first time, people who are not regular customers, and also many comments from people who bought from the business more than once yesterday, either at the same store or from multiple locations.

    Here in Ohio, the group Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus used the opportunity to call attention to the plight of Ohio college students whose Second Amendment rights are denied while on campus. The Ohio State school newspaper covered the events in an article entitled "Concealed carry laws trigger protests." Also, Buckeye Firearms Association Minuteman Sean Maloney was interviewed outside a Dayton Starbucks.

    Meanwhile, over at the anti-gun Facebook page, there are very few posts from people participating in the boycott (and most of the ones I saw stated that they weren't Starbucks customers to begin with). However, there are lots of posts similar to those above, from pro-gun people wanting to let the NGVAC know how their efforts have backfired.

    As enjoyable as the comments are the photos many supporters posted with them. Be sure to check them out!

    Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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