A Community Banana Stand in downtown Seattle, staffed by two "banistas"
A Community Banana Stand in downtown Seattle, staffed by two "banistas"

A Community Banana Stand is a fruit stand operated by the American company Amazon around its Seattle headquarters, offering free bananas to passersby. Originally proposed by then-CEO Jeff Bezos, the first Community Banana Stand opened in South Lake Union in December 2015.[1]

Operation

The stands are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 pm, providing bananas to employees and non-employees alike.[2] Stand attendants, known as "banistas", oversee the distribution of around 8,000 bananas per day at its two wooden carts, supervised by so-called "bananagers" who keep track of demand.[3] Banistas sometimes offer up trivia facts about bananas, such as the proper term for a bunch of bananas (a hand).[3] Having previously considered oranges and apples, Amazon decided to go with bananas as they require no washing or extra packaging, with each stand providing a compost bin for peels. Visitors have requested a greater variety of fruit, but Amazon has demurred due to the high cost of other fruits.[3]

Community feedback has been mixed. Most employees have a favorable view of the stands, though some have complained that it is difficult to find bananas for purchase at nearby grocery stores. A local vegetarian café, which offers sliced banana as a yogurt topping for $1, has seen demand for the topping plummet. Canadian chain restaurant Local Public Eatery has complained about the manners of certain customers at its Seattle location, who often bring in bananas to eat and leave behind the peels.[3] Some have viewed the initiative as an attempt by Amazon to clean up its image after criticism of the company's culture and relative lack of employee perks compared to other tech companies.[2]

The Seattle stands were closed in March 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic after Amazon adopted remote work for its headquarters employees.[4] They reopened the following year after employees were allowed to return to the headquarters campus.[5]

Outside of Seattle, Amazon opened a temporary banana stand for the duration of CES 2019 in Las Vegas, in the midst of making several major product announcements at the trade show.[6] As part of its plans for its HQ2, Amazon has indicated the possibility of opening a Community Banana Stand in Arlington, Virginia.[7]

References

  1. ^ González, Ángel (January 6, 2017). "Amazon meets new milestone: one-millionth free banana". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Demmitt, Jacob (December 3, 2015). "Amazon opens 'Community Banana Stand' at Seattle HQ to give away free fruit". GeekWire. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Stevens, Laura (May 22, 2017). "Amazon's Latest Market Disruption: 1.7 Million Free Bananas". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  4. ^ Schlosser, Kurt (March 12, 2020). "Photos: Seattle's tech hub goes quiet as businesses struggle to cope with effects of COVID-19". GeekWire. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  5. ^ Deppen, Laurel; Soper, Taylor (June 11, 2021). "Restaurants and small biz near Amazon HQ show signs of life as tech giant adjusts remote work rules". GeekWire. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  6. ^ Levy, Nat (January 8, 2019). "There's always money in the (Amazon) banana stand, even at CES". GeekWire. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  7. ^ Basch, Michelle (July 12, 2019). "A-peel-ing idea: Amazon HQ2 might include a free-banana stand". WTOP News. Retrieved September 16, 2021.