Target: What do you think?

In today’s Dallas Voice, I wrote an article about the unofficial Target boycott.

I’m not boycotting, but I haven’t been shopping there either, at least until something is resolved.

Yes, the president of the company apologized, but no, he didn’t do anything to show his remorse. The fact that he just hired right-wing Sen. John Thune’s former chief of staff said to me that the donation and sudden sharp turn to the right was intentional.

While researching the story, I stopped by Target in Oak Lawn. In the article I wrote:

Employees at Target at Cityplace refused to say whether or not their business has been affected but told this reporter to leave the store.

Here’s what happened: I approached an employee who did not have any customers nearby. I identified myself as a reporter and said I was working on a story about the boycott of Target. I asked if she’d noticed any difference.

“You need to get out of here now,” she said.

I thanked her and told her she would appear in the paper. And regardless of whether the boycott ends with a happy resolution, I probably won’t be going back to Target anytime soon.

The incident was really no big deal, but it seemed to indicate how on edge everyone at Target is about the issue.

David Ethridge, a gay Dallas man who’s been going after Target, had a lot more to say than what I included in the story.

“I’ve heard several people attempt to defend Target by pointing out its past benevolence to our community,” Ethridge said.

“Here’s the thing: I may help you move or give you a ride to the airport, but if I’m poisoning your tea behind your back, then I’m not your friend. What Target did was short-sighted and indefensible. Its leadership should act like adults, apologize, and make it right, so we can all go back about our business.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have pledged to take their fair-minded money elsewhere, but it’s too early to know what impact that will have long-term. The biggest advantage that Target had over competitors Like Wal-Mart and Kmart was image. The company’s image has been very carefully cultivated with millions of dollars in slick ads and designer collaborations over the years to appeal to a more style-conscious and progressive value shopper. The long-term detriment to the company may lie in the damage to that image.

“Effective social media is crucial to retailers in today’s economy. Target’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been a complete wreck for weeks, with customers screaming back-and-forth at each other. The company’s consumer reviews on sites like Google Maps have taken a dive as well.

“Back-to-school is Target’s second-busiest season. But instead of promoting those products, or their new collections from Shaun White and ‘Punky Brewster,’ they’ve been forced to constantly defend their political contributions. They have to ask themselves if this is all really worth some imagined benefit on a future tax form.”

So what do you think? Are you boycotting? Waiting and seeing? Can’t afford to shop elsewhere since Target generally has the lowest overall prices? Don’t have patience to run all over town to other stores? Or is Target not that convenient to you anyway? And what about Best Buy? We don’t shop there as often, but the LGBT community tends to be loyal Best Buy customers.

NOTE: I just got an e-mail from Paul Schmelzer, editor of the Minnesota Independent. I like to give credit when we know who to credit and Paul broke the story about Tom Emmer and his connection with Bradlee Dean and the Christian band You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. Dean’s the one mentioned in the print article that thinks Muslims have it right with putting gays to death.

—  David Taffet

Despite apology Target controversy continues

According to the Chicago Tribune, the controversy revolving around Target’s $150,000 contribution to a PAC that supported a virulently anti-gay candidate continues.

In West Hollywood, this weekend, activists plan a day of buying and returning items to the local Target. Each return costs the company $3.

Human Rights Campaign is negotiating with the company to make an equal donation to an LGBT group. They are backed by members of the San Francisco city council. Target has proposed building two stores in that city. The commissioners are holding up approval of zoning for the stores.

In July, Target hired Matt Zabel, right-wing Senator John Thune’s long-time chief of staff to be their government affairs director. The next week, Target made their donation.

When the LGBT community objected, the company took notice. The Chicago newspaper notes that gays are among Target’s most loyal clientele.

Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s CEO, has apologized for the donation promoting the candidacy of the anti-gay candidate for governor of Minnesota, the company’s home state. He said in the future political donations would be reviewed and approved by their board. But the hiring of a partisan figure like Zabel says more about where the company stands than a make-up donation that HRC might extract from the company.

—  David Taffet