Monday, December 20, 2010

the target boycott.

You probably know about the Target boycott that started last summer?  I tried to ignore it for a while because I am a Target junkie, but finally in August I read and really thought about Target's big donation to an anti-gay gubernatorial candidate and decided that I had to stop shopping there.  I stopped myself from being too over-dramatic about what a huge sacrifice this was considering the issue for which I was boycotting was the law that doesn't allow some of my dearest friends to get married.  

But really!  It was kinda hard on me.  My poor (legally married) self was unable to get cute, cheap t-shirts! And cute, affordable sheets and home accessories! And other cute, reasonably priced thingies!  And there is a Starbucks right in the store!

I began boycotting Target in August, just when it was time to buy school supplies (!), and I survived.  I actually probably saved my family hundreds of dollars.  Ahem.  At least.

From time to time, I would check in with the Target boycott facebook group or political websites, hoping to see a headline like:  Target apologizes and begs its frequent shoppers to come back!  or, Target takes back the money and now supports all people!  One time I even googled:  "Do I really have to keep boycotting Target?"

While we were boycotting, I had to explain my reasoning to my kids, considering we went there all the time.    Reed got the 3-year-old version:  "The people at Target are not nice.  And we cannot go there until they say they are sorry."  And Skyler got the full explanation.   I wasn't sure how well she understood, but then:

We were at a Halloween party when another mother (that I didn't know) referenced that she had bought her child's costume at Target.  I watched from a distance as Skyler's eyes widened.   Skyler told the woman:  "We don't shop at Target!"  When the mother asked why, Skyler said, "Because WE believe (hands on chest for emphasis) that everyone should be able to marry who they love, and Target does not believe that." That is my girl.

Last week, after 4 months of no Target, I got an email from my friend Suzanne about the latest Corporate Equality Index put out by the Human Rights Commission, and that Target got the highest possible rating for its treatment of LGBT employees.  There has been discussion about whether this fact fully redeems Target, and how to make sense of how a company is good to its gay employees but still supported a (losing) campaign of someone working to block their equal rights.  After some emails with my other friends who had also been boycotting, we did decided Target was trying to be a good and fair company, and so it was okay for us to return.   And I was a little excited.

The next day I was going shopping with a group of my Creative Writing students.  Together we had organized a collection of money and committed to buying Christmas gifts for two local kids whose parents were struggling through a community agency.  We had planned to go to Walmart (gross), but I was ready to go to Target, so we decided to meet there instead.  Skyler and Reed, who were kind of confused why Santa couldn't just provide enough presents for all boys and girls, were excited to help pick out toys for these children, and we all shopped together.  

When I walked in, I felt like I was reuniting with an old lover.  The red carts!  The cute stuff everywhere!  The calming, wide aisles!  I wanted to shout to all the red-shirted employees:  "Hellooooo, everyone!"  The kids remembered our old routine and piled right into the cart.

Here I am not breaking any privacy laws.  

We shopped for a 6-year old girl and a 5-year old boy.  I loved doing this with my students, and loved how earnest they were about what to buy.  They deliberated over all of the options and worked hard to maximize our purchases.

The boy was hoping for Transformer toys and 5T pants.

The girl wished for  "princess things" and Skyler was all over that job.   She helped the older girls pick out just the right things.  (And I forgot to take a photo until it was all wrapped.)   For about $50 we got her a princess doll, a princess tea set, 3 princess books, a sticker book, crayons, a Hannah Montana CD and some candy. Skyler was very pleased and even though she admitted she was "a little jealous, " she was mostly so excited to help put it all together.  
I thought this was a pretty cool way to go back to Target.  A few hours later, while I was out on my own for the evening, I went back to do some Christmas shopping alone.  I thought it was funny that I was there two times in one day, but then I ran into my friends Ange and Matt, who also just ended their boycott this week, and we laughed when we saw each other.  Their cart was packed.  We were all making up for lost time. 

Do you love Target?  Do you try to shop at stores that match your political beliefs? 


Carly said...

I do like Target. Better than I like Walmart anyway (I avoid that place like the plague). I really try to support local mom and pop shops over the chains, but it's really hard when you're on a tight budget. Someday I'll get to be picky. :-)

Nitsirk said...

It is interesting that you posted this. I have been reluctantly shopping at Target. I debated the boycott but I was weak and couldn't stand the thought of going to Wal-mart instead.

gretchen said...

I prefer Target over Walmart, so read a lot about the boycott but still felt they were the lesser of two evils. I prefer Amazon even more (free prime if you're a mom or a student) because I hate shopping, and try to patronize local places whenever I can, but that's hard, when your kid wants a Zhu Zhu pet or a game that only the big boxes carry. The only time I really go to Walmart is if I would rather go to Brewer and avoid a Stillwater ave madhouse (like this past weekend; the Brewer WM was not unusually busy, so it was a quick trip. See: hates shopping.)

Tiercy said...

I love Target...that is what I call openminded standing up for what you believe in, but still treating people nicely even though they believe differently. We are trying to teach our children the same thing right?

Michelle said...

Oh I am sadly and embarrassingly uninformed. I didn't even know that there was a boycott. Soooooo, going by your post alone it seems to me that Target acted in two ways that you value:
1)exercising their right to choose
2)treating people fairly and respectfully while doing so

As far as shopping goes... I suck it up and shop at Walmart most times because it is closer to home and a bit cheaper BUT I do love the Target atmosphere and cleanliness MUCH better.

Joanne said...

Having lived in Minnesota, (where I enjoyed shopping at Target as a graduate -short on money- student), I have some feeling of Minnesotans values (quite progressive really) and fairly strong Democratic choices. While Target cares about their workers, they also may be pressed to remain strong in their region (and follow trends?) - where their corporate headquarters are based - in Minneapolis! So, I believe that they gave to both campaigns and yet contributing to Tom Emmer's gubernatorial bid (failed, thank you voters) was most likely business (read, economically) driven.
Just adding some perspective to judging corporate choices, and I'm not supporting their choice, simply trying to understand business thought. I don't even want to try to make sense of Wal Mart, which my spouse believes will be gone within our lifetime!?
Great awareness in your little ones and big (students) too!

Carver Fam said...

I think we wrote almost the same post about the end of the boycott. Good for us for standing by our principles and THANK GOD it's over.

Carver Fam said...

Extra info for those who didn't know about Target's campaign contribution: Target didn't give the money because the candidate was anti-gay. They were going for the job creating angle the candidate ran on. It just so happens he was rabidly anti-gay and Target didn't do their homework.

ann said...

YOu bet I shop selectively. I still refuse to go into Eddie Bauer since they targeted (no pun intended) a young black man who was wearing one of their shirts. They accused him of shoplifting it and there was a BIG bro-ha-ha until he was allowed to go home and get the receipt. Thank heavens he was able to produce it or who knows what would have happened. That was in the 1980's and I haven't been back since then. I have also been refusing to shop at Target and never go to Walmart (except when Blair needs me to get him some hypodermics). I hear though (with no documentation) that they are treating their employees better these days.

Good for all of us who stand up for what we believe!

Sarah said...

once again, you are my hero.

supertamsf said...

Unfortunately the decision to head back to Target might have come too soon. Today it was revealed that Target has continued to donate to a bevy of anti-gay politicians despite a past apology and promises to review future political donations.

While I understand the temptation to buy all things cute at Target, I personally will not allow my money to be funneled towards supporting intolerant, prejudiced policies. Target promised to change their ways. They didn't. I'm done.

I know the change in my pocket is small, but I care more about equality and fairness than anything I could ever buy at Target.

Anonymous said...

Kristin and I have not shopped at walmart for over 5 years now for many reasons(read the book Big Box Swindle). We always try to go to the independent shops whenever we can. I was unaware of the Target boycott, maybe we can leave them out too.