There have been a few stories in the media recently about businesses refusing services to people they don’t like. One news story was about a cake baker in Colorado who won a favorable ruling in the Supreme Court, giving him the right not to make a cake for a wedding of two gay men. Another news story was about President Trump’s spokesperson being asked to leave an upscale restaurant because the staff/owner did not like some things about Trump.
My reaction as a business owner is, fine, ok, we have a right to serve who we want, though not serving someone because of race or other protected statuses will get you into a boatload of trouble (as it should).
Every business has customers or clients who are not welcome in the store or on the premises. But, this is almost always due to the customer’s behavior and usually (I would hope) not about one’s race, gender, sexuality, or political affiliation.
Kona Impact has made things for the Tea Party (a far-right group) and Occupy Kona (a far-left group). We have had atheist, Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Evangelical, Conservative Christian, and Liberal Christian customers. We have several gay customers. We have done projects for an “adult” retailer in Kona and for bars and CBD businesses.
We have turned down two businesses–an “escort” and pitbull breeder that breeds fighting dogs–in the past 12 years for the same reason: these businesses are illegal and, truth be told, they, are not the kind of business I could honestly put my full effort and energy into.
My thinking is simple: if a person comes to us for services, I do not care about the circumstances of that person’s life or business. I don’t care if they have beliefs or a lifestyle different from mine; I want to give them the best possible product or service and get paid. If I refuse a customer based on who he or she is, I am 100% certain I will not change that person, and he or she will find another provider. I will have gained nothing.
I know that the baker in Colorado felt his moral, and religious, opposition to gay marriage was a good reason to deny service to the gay couple. This is fine; he can serve who he likes (though he should not expect to be welcomed in his community with such bigoted views). I would not patronize an establishment I knew to have such policies. Likewise, I would avoid the restaurant that rejected the Trump staffer. That is my choice.
I do tend to look at business as a business. I am not trying to change the world by selectively serving customers based on who they are. I will, and have, refused clients based on their behavior. Rude or disrespectful to my staff or me? Adios! Pay invoices late and only after great effort on my part? Find a new provider! Gay, Jewish, Occupy Kona member who sells CBDs? My door is open!