Don’t Let Starbucks Take Our Public Toilet

American cities especially lack public toilets, and instead of addressing the problem directly, lawmakers have contented themselves with letting Starbucks and other chains take over the responsibility. (Yes, I said duty.)

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg famously deflected public pressure to tackle the toilet problem 20 years ago by joking that “there are enough Starbucks that will let you use the toilet.” (Then he set about fighting the real scourge of Gotham known as the Big Soda…but that’s a tirade for another day.)

It was an imperfect solution at best, but it will soon become much more complex.

Here is the deal: Starbucks is no longer a public restroom.

The company’s acting CEO Howard Schultz recently said his stores may need to rethink policies that allow anyone, customer or not, to use the restroom. My colleagues Nathaniel Meyerson and Daniel Wiener-Bronner tell the full story here.

Schultz said he’s worried about safety, and while he hasn’t repealed the policy outright, he does appear to be worried about the growing “mental health” issue threatening Starbucks employees. (By the way, I don’t know what he means by this mental health comment, and he didn’t give any examples. My guess is that the Starbucks employees are just legitimately tired of having to clean the bathroom so much, and Schultz is doing his best to the staff didn’t riot or form unions.In any case, the bottom line is that, whatever the reason, Starbucks has every right to lock their bathroom doors when and how it wants, and if you don’t have stock, you won’t do it . not get any voting rights in this decision).

For over 20 years, Starbucks has been the de facto public restroom, especially in cities, and now that it’s rethinking its policies, it may bring the issue back into the political realm.

“A commercial solution is not really a good solution… No reasonable person would want Starbucks to pay for traffic lights or street lights,” says Lezley Lowe, author of No Space: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs.

MY TWO CENTS

So here’s a free idea for Mr. Schultz & Co.: wait, wait, wait a fucking minute before you go and make me spend five bucks on an overcooked (yes, I said that) cup of coffee, just so I can use the toilet every time when I’m stupid enough to run errands in Manhattan.

I understand bathrooms are disgusting and no one wants to think that their barista has to jump from milk frother to plunger to cash register and back again.

So here’s an idea: instead of locking the toilet, make it the best part of the store. Hire orderlies to free your barista from extra work. Turn your dull closets into palaces, with plenty of stalls, fresh flowers, mints, scented candles and Enya’s greatest hits playing on the speaker system. Stock them up with some pretty soft toilet paper and turn up the flattering coverage that all Instagram influencers love.

Woah, woah, Miss Morrow, we can’t afford this., you say? FALSE. You can. Will it be expensive? Yes. But let me tell you something Bakaroo, you have to spend money to make money. Starbucks is a solid brand, but what else do you have besides legal stimulants that you sell at a criminal markup?

All I’m saying is that you can take your current bathrooms, which in my experience have all the aesthetic appeal of a Port Authority terminal, and turn them into something people will actually want to stay in.

And listen, I hear you talking about how “private enterprise cannot take on all the shortcomings of the government.” But, like, I’ve lived in New York long enough to know not to expect even the slightest improvement in the city’s basic infrastructure – I can’t help it. breath bladder for the city to figure it out.

NUMBER OF THE DAY: 3.9 BILLION

Amazon is buying leading millennial bougie-focused medical company One Medical for about $3.9 billion in cash.

For the uninitiated: One Medical is a membership-based primary health care service that promises customers “24/7 access to virtual care.” For a yearly fee, you get access to his sleek website where you can make appointments with the doctor, either via Zoom or in flashy offices that look like they’ve been ripped out of West Elm’s catalogue.

Why it matters: Amazon is doubling down on healthcare as an industry ripe for a breakthrough. In 2018, she acquired online pharmacy PillPack and later launched her own digital pharmacy in the US. (He also tried and failed to partner with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway on a project that was supposed to provide better and cheaper healthcare… However, it turned out to be really difficult to do, and the project officially closed last year.) .

KINGS OF THE STREAM

The next episode of the Netflix saga will be hard to watch.

Here’s the deal: After losing almost a million customers last quarter, Netflix needs to come up with a sustainable income plan to keep investors happy. And, as my colleague Frank Pallotta writes, that would mean abandoning some of the things that made Netflix Netflix.

In other words, to please Wall Street is to piss off or at least piss off customers.

How?

First, by adding ads that interrupt your Ozark binge sesh.

  • This is a huge shift. Back in 2019, Netflix assured shareholders that the lack of ads was “an important part of our brand offering.”
  • Cut to three years later and the company is betting on a new subscription tier that will be cheaper for customers (hooray) because it’s ad-supported (boo).
  • Subscribers will have the choice to stay without ads, but they will pay more for it, and it seems like less of a treat.

Then deal with the general access to the account.

  • Freebie days are numbered.
  • Netflix is ​​already experimenting with features that make people pay extra to share their accounts.

BOTTOM LINE

All of these initiatives are critical to Netflix’s bottom line, but they also undermine Netflix’s reputation with viewers who have long appreciated its innovations, such as incredibly accurate suggested clocks, the “skip screensaver” button, trending lists, and the “shuffle” feature. when you’re overwhelmed and just want the bots to pick something for you.

“The original consumer proposition, which was incredibly valuable, is now being turned on its head,” media analyst Michael Nathanson told Frank.

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