It seems like only yesterday that Starbucks wrote a letter to its customers asking them to please stop open-carrying firearms into their stores.

But it was actually six years ago. Recently, more retailers are joining the parade asking customers to leave their weapons at home -- many of them in the last week or so. 

The stricter exception: Costco, which has a statement on its website that as a membership club, it doesn't consider itself open to the public, and it outright bans members from bringing firearms into its locations unless they are "authorized law enforcement officers."

Guns are an intense political issue right now, and a lot of where people stand depends on where they live (not exclusively, of course).

In the New York City area (home to Inc.), if anyone were to open-carry a firearm into most stores in this area of the country, it would look out of place for sure -- and might actually start a panic.

It would also be illegal, depending on where it happened. But I've also traveled and lived elsewhere in the U.S., where people open-carry all the time.

We really are two countries in this regard. And big brands that seek a national audience have a decision to make.

Recently, The Hill put together a compendium of big retailers that now ask -- but don't flat-out prohibit -- customers not to bring guns into their stores, even if they're in states and localities where it's otherwise legal to do so.

More than half of the biggest retailers in America according to National Retail Federation numbers didn't respond to The Hill's request for information on their policies, including Amazon, Lowe's, Apple, Best Buy and McDonald's.

Two large retailers have no gun restrictions beyond local laws, accoridng to The Hill, including TJX Companies (which owns TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods), and Macy's.

Here are the 10 largest retailers with gun restrictions (voluntary or not), many of which announced their polices within the last 10 days:

  1. Walmart (announced new policy last week -- also no. 1 retailer in overall sales, based on  National Retail Federation numbers)
  2. Kroger (new policy last week - no. 3 in sales)
  3. Walgreens (new policy last week - no. 5 in sales)
  4. CVS (announced last week - no. 7 in sales)
  5. Target (announced in 2014, no. 8 in sales)
  6. Albertsons (announced within the last few days, no. 10 in sales)
  7. Royal Ahold Delhaize USA (brands include Giant, Food Lion, and Hannaford, no. 12 in sales) 
  8. Aldi (no. 17 in sales. The Hill reports this chain as having no restrictions on customer guns, but it prohibits employees from doing so, and apparently did not respond to requests for further information about customers).
  9. H-E-B Grocery (has had a "decades-long policy," no. 20 in sales)
  10. Starbucks (as noted above, since 2013, no 26 in sales)

Other large retailers -- just not quite large enough to make the top 30 list -- that now have firearms restrictions or ask customers not to carry weapons include Wegmans Food Markets and JOANN Fabric & Craft, both of which announced the news last week.

Published on: Sep 10, 2019
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