Starbucks puts spotlight on ‘community’ stores — here are nine to check out

Starbucks has been steadily expanding its “community” store concept as part of its commitment to make its stores more inclusive — and accessible to all. 

Since it was first launched back in 2015, Starbucks’ community concept has grown around the world to include several store models, ranging from stores dedicated to empowering the deaf and hearing-impaired community to stores designed to hire and honor service members to stores that focus on providing economic opportunity in communities and creating impact in partnership with local nonprofit organizations. 

Below are nine of Starbucks’ most unique community stores:

Seoul, South Korea: Starbucks’ newest community store is located within a redesigned theater at the historic Kyungdong market. The spacious interior pays tribute to the historic theatre with a retro touch of 1960s style and modern design elements.

A portion of all proceeds from the location are donated to the upkeep and vitality of this living landmark, and the store provides employment opportunities to community members to help create more pathways to opportunities in the Korea economy.

Washington, D.C.: Starbucks’ first-ever signing store in the United States is located down the street from the Gallaudet University campus in Washington D.C. (Gallaudet is the only U.S. university exclusively dedicated to the deaf and hard of hearing.

The store is designed to empower the hearing-impaired community. All employees are proficient in ASL, whether they are hearing, hard of hearing or Deaf.

Just inside the entry, is a mural created by Yiqiao Wang, a deaf artist, which features am arrau of letters, signs and symbols representing English, ASL, Deaf culture and coffee.

Gallup, N.M.: The first Starbucks location dedicated to the Navago Nation (one of the most populous tribes in the U.S.) is also the chain’s first community store in New Mexico. It is staffed almost entirely by Navajo employees, and features art and design elements that reflect “Navajo Nation” pride.

The elements include a 20-foot-long mural of a Diné elder titled “Grandmother of Direction.”  Painted by Navajo artist Daniel Josley. the mural uses warm colors to showcase the community of Gallup and the Navajo Nation. 

Seattle: Located within the Kraken Community Iceplex, this community store also serves as a space to support the Northgate community — one of Seattle’s most diverse neighborhoods. The Kraken and Starbucks partner throughout the year to bring people together and foster a sense of inclusion and belonging through community programming, such as hosting field trips for kids at local Title I schools to visit the Iceplex and learn about the sport of hockey.

Chicago: In May 2022, Starbucks dedicated its 100th Military Family Store (MFS), near Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, Ill., the only naval boot camp location in the U.S. 

The store boasts unique, military-specific artwork, including a handcrafted wooden American flag made by a local veteran and a military apron, gifted by a local retired Colonel, who had his old uniforms upcycled for Starbucks partners to wear.

• Washington, D.C.: Located in the historic Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, D.C., this community store features a colorful, panoramic mural by D.C.-based Aniekan Udofia inspired by its location.

The store is located next to the Children of Mine Youth Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities that are educational and encourage a safe environment for its youth populationOver the years, Starbucks and COMYC have partnered to provide support for families in the neighborhood through after-school programs, activities and meals, many of which are not just for children, but for the whole family. 

• Los Angeles: This community store in the city’s Watts neighborhood extends Starbucks goal of bringing people and communities together. It store houses a training room designed for community events. Store employees are engaged with the community and have supported four local youth-focused nonprofits with neighborhood grants.

The store exterior features two murals commissioned by local artist Mike Norice. Titled “Community and Love”, the artwork was inspired by the important events that shaped the Watts neighborhood into what it is today.

• Jakarta, Indonesia: Starbucks Indonesia opened its first signing store in the region in December 2022. Dedicated to the Deaf, hard of hearing, and sign language communities, the store offers sign language lessons and coffee workshops in sign language.

The store is filled with design elements that symbolize the spirit of uniting communities together, such as an elongated oval-shaped community table and circle details on the floor. The most notable feature is the approximate 13-ft.-high mural by deaf artist Indira Natalia, which is meant to depict “the warm and welcoming Starbucks experience.”

• Guangzhou, China: This signing store, which is located near the Guangdong Disabled Association and Guangdong Deaf People Association, employs deaf and hard of hearing employees from across China who are fluent in Chinese sign language.

Wooden frames above the bar area are arranged to express the gesture of love in sign language. To create an inclusive environment and encourage customers to learn more about the deaf community, the store also offers sign language lessons and coffee workshops in sign language for the community.

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