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Levi Strauss’ Veteran CEO Chip Bergh asks for No Guns in His Stores

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Recently Levi-Strauss CEO Chip Bergh made a request in an open letter to customers posted on LinkedIn stating that firearms should not be on the premises of his stores. Bergh stated that he was aware of the potential to anger many customers, and is seeking to reassure them by saying the move is all about safety and not a political statement.

“It’s not an anti-Second Amendment thing,” Bergh stated in an interview. The denim apparel maker stopped short of issuing an outright ban on firearms.

Bergh’s post comes just a few weeks after a customer carrying a handgun accidentally shot himself inside of a Levi’s store in Commerce, Georgia. The customer suffered an injury, but it was not life threatening injury. Bergh also added that a number of store workers have expressed concern as more customers have brought their weapons into Levi’s stores.

“You don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans and it’s really out of respect for the safety of our employees and consumers shopping in our stores,” says the 59-year-old former U.S. Army captain. Bergh, who is not a gun owner, noted with pride that he has fired weapons countless times and surmised he could still clean a gun blindfolded as he could in his military days.

In the open letter, Bergh notes that Levi’s has locations in a number of cities that have seen mass violence in the last year.

“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 this company,” he wrote.

For retailers and restaurants, taking any stand on the hot-button issue of gun control is fraught with risk: they can easily offend a big part of their clientele, but at the same time, the sight of rifle-toting men can unnerve other customers. And apart from race, there is perhaps no debate more fractious in the U.S. than the one surrounding gun control.

Starbucks learned that in 2013 when it requested, following a round of mass shootings, that customers visiting its stores keep their guns at home or in their car. The request was met with boycott threats from both sides of the debate.

Bergh says he consulted Starbucks as he crafted his message, and concluded that most boycott threats around this topic ultimately blow over.

Bergh recognizes the potential hazards, he said. “I’m not naive enough to expect that nothing will come of this. We are standing up for something we think is right,” he says.

Similarly to Starbucks’ approach, the request, made in 2013 by CEO Howard Schultz in the form of an open letter, is just that: a request. Bergh says he doesn’t want to put store workers in a position of having to enforce any rule, lest they confront armed customers, something he says would defeat the purpose of the request.

“The way to do this is with respect for gun owners,” Bergh says.

Click Here For Other Businesses That Prohibit Guns

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24 Responses to Levi Strauss’ Veteran CEO Chip Bergh asks for No Guns in His Stores

  1. S. Harridan December 5, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

    Buy Wrangler! They cost about $30.00 less a pair also

  2. Eric Racine December 5, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

    I all not ever need another Levi garment.

    • Randy Walker December 6, 2016 at 10:52 am #

      Are they going to have armed guards at the door so the bad guys can’t come in and shoot unarmed innocent people, …..a good guy carrying a concealed firearm has the potential to save lives and stop the madman, without that weapon he or she is running like the rest of the sheep, with that weapon they can be the sheepdog, and help protect the flock from the wolves, carry proudly people, ….boycott Levi

  3. Aint So December 5, 2016 at 9:53 pm #

    You have to admit, no matter what your convictions, that carrying concealed in a clothing store poses some unique hazard concerns to all present. When trying on clothes, substantial handling of a concealed firearm cannot really be avoided. It only takes one thoughtless moron to invite tragedy. As someone who carries everywhere except where it is illegal, I sympathize with this guy even though I don’t believe his action is the solution, especially since all the bad guys now know they are well armed and his people are not. However well intentioned he may be, my business will have to go elsewhere unless they have internet sales.

    • Jacob Paulsen December 6, 2016 at 8:26 am #

      Valid point. It reminds me of the Podcast and article we published about using the bathroom with one’s gun. The dressing room does have some challenges for sure.

  4. Michael Fulton December 6, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    I quit buying Levi’s years ago when they moved production to Mexico. I only buy Diamond Gusset jeans, well made and made in the USA.

  5. Dconrad December 6, 2016 at 9:17 am #

    I will no longer purchase any Levi brands.

  6. Norm December 6, 2016 at 9:46 am #

    Why don’t store owners provide a secure lockup at the entrance to check guns at the door?

    • john December 6, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      Checking your firearm at the door is basically the same as leaving it at home or locked in your car. It still makes the establishment a very unsafe “gun free zone:.

  7. Greg December 6, 2016 at 10:25 am #

    Sorry but when I try on pants or jeans I like to know my IWB holster with gun will fit. I don’t wear Levi’s (and certainly won’t in the future) but when I go clothes shopping my gun comes with me.

  8. Vern December 6, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    Well, one can soft sell their point. But, bottom line is this. If we are in a legal concealed carry state and we are a legal carrier, they are taking a political position as they are restricting our legal if not constitutional rights under the law. No matter how they sell it, they ARE taking a political position and making a political statement. If you truly are not biased one way or the other, you allow people their legal rights.

  9. Mike December 6, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    Leaving my gun outside, they have taken away the ability for me to protect myself and family. By creating an “gun free zone” they have assumed the responsibility to protect me and their other customers. Thus if the worst happens and someone (customer or employee) are killed or hurt – that customer or their family should sue the pants off the business; for lack of protection.

  10. John December 6, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    Isn’t a open letter like this telling the BGs “Hey, our stores are now a bad-guy protection zone”?

  11. Rick Miles December 6, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    I wont boycott levi products. I will comply with his request by not shopping in levi stores. Statistics show that gun free zones are anything but safer. It should also be noted that a handgun will not discharge if handled properly.

  12. Ron December 6, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    I appreciate the CEO’s concern for his employees and customers safety in regards to firearms. The first time one of his stores is targeted by a shooter intent of harming the same people, and actually doing so, his liability goes way up, if his position on guns, keeps a legally carrying person, from stopping the attack. Publicly stating his position, now makes his business a target.
    Just sayin’.

  13. Extrasmooth1 December 6, 2016 at 11:06 am #

    First off, the customer carrying the handgun negligently (not accidentally) shot himself. Dumb move. Further and to the point, if you are in state that does not prohibit by statute the possession of a firearm in a private business, you would not be in violation of law by having the handgun in a Levis store located in such a state. You might be in violation of “company policy,” but all they can do is ask you to leave. Keep it well concealed, and no one will know.

    If asked to leave, don’t be belligerent and refuse, for THAT would constitute trespassing and things could escalate badly from there.

    As others have noted , there are alternatives to Levis that are of similar quality, less expensive, and made in the USA. Ever since I heard that Levis gave big $ to anti-gun causes many years ago, I have never bought a Levis product of any sort since then.

    • Bill December 6, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

      I agree exactly.

  14. The "eye" catcher December 6, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    Having one load in the magazine but not in the chamber is safe way to have the weapon ready to use in self defense.

  15. Charles December 6, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    How stupid can these ceo’s get. Did they watch the last election cycle? There is a lot of competition for jeans. Actors and business leaders should learn to keep their opinions to themselves. This company will now have to downsize and cut employees. We are the silent majority.

  16. William Thompson December 6, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    I will not shop in a store where I can’t carry my gun.Sorry about some people that don’t know how to carry and shoot themselves. The jeans I have will be torn up and now I will use them to wash my car.Will tell all. My friends not to shop there for the no gun reason and that your jeans are no longer made in the USA. Was a great company at one time,not any more.

  17. RonBeau December 6, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    Chipo, you are right to have your opinion. I have been in one of your stores carrying. No one noticed. That is the way it is supposed to be. Based upon your edict, No one in my extensive family will ever buy a pair of 501 Levis ever again. Your call, not ours. Wranglers wear far better anyway. Every action has a consequence. Your bottom line is less as a result of that action. Sorry, pal!

  18. greg weddle December 7, 2016 at 1:13 am #

    Wow! A few rednecks and their spawn won’t be buying their “church” pair of Levis at the local Wally World. I’m sure the bean counters at Levi-Strauss are losing sleep over this development! And before any of you get in a twist, I too am a gun owner, but I understand the RIGHT to run your business as you see fit. To see another point of view, sometimes you have to pull your head out of your ass.

  19. Peter December 7, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

    I’m confused. He mentions Paris, Nise and Orlando as some sort of reference to gun tragedy as if he’s saying this new policy would somehow prevent another such tragedy? Precisely because those places were gun-free zones is why so many people were helplessly gunned down. His logic does. It compute.

  20. Jay McKinney December 8, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    Hey Greg, these people are just voicing their opinion, which they’re intitleled to. Because just like yours, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and most of them stink. But yours is the only one I’m smelling. Butt that’s my opinion. Have a great day!!!

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