Feds Forcing Small Business Owner Out In Favor Of Starbucks

MATHER (CBS13) — As a small-business owner, Ken Gilmore loves serving veterans coffee and donuts at the V.A. Medical Center on Mather Field.

They’ve supported him through some major personal challenges.

“I had cancer, and the cancer ended up leading to heart disease,” Gilmore said.

As he continues to recover from two heart attacks, he faces another major setback: After 15 years, the V.A. is pushing his coffee business out and bringing in a Starbucks instead.

“The government is supposed to support small business, and the agreement with Starbucks and the V.A. really just smashes small businesses nationwide,” he said.

The decision doesn’t just affect Gilmore. The deal with Starbucks affects 150 medical centers nationwide.

“For years we’ve had these vendor contractors provide coffee at various medical centers and clinics, and now they want to standardize it,” said Robin Jackson, a spokesman for the medical center.

Gilmore says because of his disabilities, being forced out will make reinventing himself even more difficult.

“I’ve been in the same job for 15 years. I’m a 47-year-old barista,” Gilmore said.

The V.A. says they’ve given Gilmore an option: He can shut down his business and become an employee instead at that same location. That’s something Gilmore says he can’t afford.

The timing of the notice that gives him 90 days to vacate his shop surprised Gilmore.

“The notice came a lot sooner than what we had planned, so we’re just scrambling,” he said.

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