“Please Leave your Weapons at Home”: Levi’s CEO Wades into Gun Debate

But that hasn’t stopped Levi’s Strauss chief Chip Berg from requesting that customers refrain from packing heat should they enter one of the retailer’s stores.

In an open letter published on LinkedIn, Berg said that while he respects gun rights and the heartfelt opinions on both sides of the debate, clothing stores aren’t really a suitable place for guns.

“It boils down to this: you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping for clothes or trying on a pair of jeans,” he wrote. “Simply put, firearms don’t belong in either of those settings.”

“It boils down to this: you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping for clothes or trying on a pair of jeans. Simply put, firearms don’t belong in either of those settings.

The former U.S. army captain said he was inspired after a customer accidentally shot himself—non-fatally—at a Levi’s store in Georgia. He also cited recent terrorist attacks as cause for reflection.

“With stores in Paris, Nice and Orlando, and the company’s European headquarters in Brussels, I’ve thought more about safety in the past year than in the previous three decades of my career because of how ‘close to home’ so many incidents with guns have come to impacting people working for the company,” he said.

Berg’s message has already sparked outrage in some social media circles and from right-wing website Breitbart. That likely wouldn’t surprise him, though, given the frosty reception others have received for speaking about the issue.

In 2013, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asked customers to keep firearms at home after pro-gun activists started using the coffee chain’s stores as a political stage for media events called “Starbucks Appreciation Days”.

Chipotle Mexican Grill faced boycott threats after it banned firearms from restaurants, while former Target CEO John Mulligan generated flack for requesting guns stay out of its stores after photos emerged of men toting rifles in the baby aisle.

Like Schultz, though, Berg hasn’t called for an outright ban. He has simply issued a polite request.

Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.

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