Sunday, August 22, 2010

Open Letter to Target

It’s my blog, so I get to go off-topic sometimes. Fellow food lovers, I have to get something off my chest.

Dear Target:

I’ve been your loyal customer for literally all my life. As a kid growing up in Minnesota, I formed some of my earliest shopping-related memories in the speckled white linoleum aisles of Duluth’s Target store. In college, that store was my go-to place for everything. Now that I’m climbing onto the bottom rung of middle age, I can’t think of a store I like better. That’s why it breaks my heart to tell you I’ll never shop at Target again.

There are so many reasons why I love your brand and your stores. There’s the merchandise, of course, and the prices. I’ve smugly identified with your cultivated image of the Target shopper: smart and fun; stylish, yet approachable. Yes. I am soooo much cooler than people who shop at discount stores.

I can’t tell you how many times I have defended you to opponents of big-box retail. “Target is different,” I’d say. “They treat their employees like people.” (I know this because as a cash-strapped young adult, I had a second job at the Knollwood Mall store in St. Louis Park.) I have advocated for you to people who think you are corporate drones. “Target cares about communities,” I’d argue. “They give a percentage of their profits to local charities. They send cadres of volunteers.”

And of course, your support for queer people and their causes is legendary. Target has long been a presence at the Minnesota AIDS Walk; AIDS is still popularly, though wrongly, thought of as a gay disease. Target takes up a big corner of Loring Park at Pride every summer. And no queer Target corporate employee needs to work in the closet, as you (inexplicably, still) have a 100% rating from HRC.

Over the years, you’ve made it clear your queer customers and employees are important to you. It’s just as clear that they are not as important as the possibility of an economic climate that might be a little more conducive to your financial growth. For me, your $150,000 campaign donation to a homophobe belied all the good you’ve ever done. I believed you when you said you’re sorry you gave the money. But I can’t help but notice that you did not ask for it back. And I cannot help but wonder if you’re planning to make another such donation in the future.

I have one political dream for my lifetime: to live in a country where I am not a second-class citizen. To live in an America that holds good to the promises in our Constitution: that full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. That Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. That no state shall make or enforce any law which shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

If I shop at Target, Target will make a profit. And I have no indication that Target will not give some of that profit to politicians who work to defeat my dream. That’s why I cannot spend another cent with you. I will be paying a lot more for prescriptions, for shampoo, for patio furniture and sunscreen and snow shovels and antifreeze and socks and dish soap and alarm clocks. But I won’t be helping you fund my demonization and continued marginalization. That’s what you bought with the money you made while we were doing business together. You’ve betrayed your own policies and you’ve betrayed me.

Honestly, I did expect more.


  1. I'm discouraged too. Target was always the much-superior alternative to the dreadful WalMart. It's going to take a whole new shopping mindset for me.

  2. Amy, we'd like to invite you to become one of our Authors in Alexandria.

    You may mirror your existing posts from here or elsewhere or produce original posts there, on anything you wish, as you desire. For your contributions and participation we will blogroll you with no reciprocation required. See our Guidelines for Authors for full details.

    Come contribute your perspectives and opinions to the ongoing conversations there or, even better, start some new - and different - ones of your own. Contact us through the site for full invitations and instructions.

  3. I am struggling with this.

    On the one hand, I don't want to give any money to anyone who is even remotely connected to people like this.

    On the other hand, I think that means I can't buy anything, ever.

    Every company I've ever worked for (a long list) who has made political donations has made them to Republicans. Every single one. They used to have to form a PAC, and then the executives were more or less required to "donate" to the pack. Now it's direct. But it's the same thing.

    And there are so many Republicans like this nowadays that you'd be hard-pressed to donate to one who WASN'T one of these.

    So any airline you fly--donating to Republicans. Any company that has unions or doesn't want unions--donating to Republicans. Any phone company, cable company, food company...they all want the lack of oversight that (they think) Republicans offer. Because oversight is only for who you love, not for what companies do, I guess.

    And I can't think of any Republican who doesn't have ties to people like this. They've completely infiltrated that party.

    What really needs to happen here is that decent Republicans need to take their party back. I'm not holding my breath.

    (But yes, I'm doing my best to stay out of Target...because TARGET? Really? Didn't we ALL think they were the good guys? And their blow-off response...I am disappointed too.)

  4. Hey, Amy - I know, right?! Everyone I've talked to who wants to stop spending at Target is hard-pressed to think of an alternative. I had a dream last night that I was shopping at Target, even. But this is not a real problem. There are other stores. I'll be finding out what they are.

    Kerry, an excellent point that I struggled with before I wrote my post. I do suspect that most corporations will lean Republican. I don't object to Republicanism. I don't agree with it, but real conservatism has its merits.

    Opponents of marriage are not real conservatives. They are right-wing radicals. The once-respectable Republican party has been taken over by them. You're right, it would be nice if decent people could get control of that rampaging elephant.

    It's the hypocrisy, not the Republicanism, that has cost Target my loyalty.

  5. You're absolutely right about that.


Thanks for your comments - nothing scatological, please. If you wouldn't bring it in the kitchen, please don't say it here.