Starbucks launched a new community-oriented franchise in Columbia, about a 10 minute drive from Russell House.
“It is a kind of a new effort from Starbucks, where the idea is where, it's less about profit, and more about this, uplifting a local area and underserved community, is the terminology they use," shift supervisor Jordan Deloach said.
A community Starbucks differs from a regular Starbucks by its desire to connect and invest sustainably to be a neighbor of the community. The goal of the store is less about profit, and more focused on community outreach by partnering with local nonprofits and creating opportunities for the area.
Some similar projects have been adopting its location's street to clean and beautify it. The store also plans to do something for Halloween.
The store's opening dedication ceremony took place Aug. 6 with guest speakers. Firefighters, police officers and artists from around the area were present as the hopeful community hub opened, and all were invited to engage with the store to let the store know what it could do to help them.
“The artist who painted the mural behind you was here to speak about what, you know, that mural meant to them, and why they painted it the way they did. The mayor was here; our store manager; the district manager," shift supervisor Alex Cawley said about the dedication ceremony.
The store also had a Zoom call afterwards with business leaders from high along the Starbucks chain of command, such as the business director of North American sales.
Since opening, a book club has started hosting its meetings at the Starbucks.
The new mural that the store features is painted by two local artists, Lauren Andreu and Jared Owens, both of whom are South Carolina natives.
The mural, “A Great Cloud of Witness,” is about celebrating the history of our past relatives.
The mural aims to honor those that came before, as their actions still impact people today and will continue to impact people for generations to come.
The collage uses imagery from the 1920s and '30s, highlighting the work of photographer Richard Samuel Roberts. All of his pictures used in the mural were taken in Columbia.
Cawley said the Starbucks is doing a community service project at least once every three months. The location intends to host an event for Halloween later in October, but COVID-19 might delay it, according to Cawley.
“They've been very strict about this whole thing too much, just because of COVID right now. We're kind of being shut down a little more gradually," shift peer Pavi Holmes said.
According to Holmes, staff has has gone back to wearing masks due to the COVID-19 delta variant.
For right now, management has been doing what it can to help the community in terms of hiring.
“I believe over 75% of our partners live within 10 miles from the store, are from all diverse backgrounds, and a lot of them are either HBCU students or USC students," Cawley said.
Currently, between 40 to 50 people are employed there. The Starbucks is bigger than a typical franchise and has more lobby space to allow meetings to happen there.
The new Starbucks is open 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday and located at 2509 Forest Dr.