retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said yesterday that his company is committing $30 million "to help war vets," saying that "he fears that with the wind-down of Afghanistan, some Americans may forget too quickly about the needs of the 2.5 million who have served," according to a story from CBS News.

Schultz said yesterday that he sees two main goals for the funding: "I think one thing that is necessary is a comprehensive mechanism for job training. But another is the fact that, depending on who you're talking to, 20, 30, 40 percent of the two million people who have served are coming back with some kind of brain trauma or PTS. So we're going to fund the opportunity for significant research and for medical practitioners and science to understand the disease and, ultimately, hopefully, come up with some -- a level of remedy."

He also said that Starbucks will hire 10,000 veterans or their spouses over the next five years.

In other Starbucks news:

• The company announced what the Wall Street Journal termed "a first-of-its-kind collaboration to co-create Teavana Oprah Chai Tea. Beginning April 29, Teavana Oprah Chai will be sold in Starbucks and Teavana stores across the U.S. and Canada, with Starbucks making a donation for each product sold to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation to benefit educational opportunities for youth."

• And, the Los Angeles Times reports that Starbucks will expand its after 4 pm "Evenings" menu, which includes beer, wine and assorted foods, from the 25 stores where it currently is being tested to "thousands of stores nationwide." The move, the story says, "is part of Starbucks’ ongoing effort to branch out beyond the coffee through which it became famous."
KC's View:
The first two are savvy public relations moves by Starbucks, which is not to suggest that the effort to support returning vets is only a PR initiative. I think anything companies can do to help veterans is worthwhile.

As for Oprah…I was sort of thinking that she'd lost her juice, but maybe I'm wrong and this will be a big seller.

The "Evenings" move really fascinates me, because it strikes me as one of those things that is a lot easier to talk about than do - how are they going to get the liquor licenses they're going to need, for example?

I think this is a good idea that may be tough to implement…