The rumours are true! I broke the Target boycott. I decided Target is a [bleepy] corporation, but a lot less [bleepy] than the stores I was taking my money to instead. Do I feel good about it? Nope. Here’s my 100% ambivalent letter to the company:
Dear Mr. Steinhafel, Ms. May, and Whomever is Actually Going to Read This and Send Me Back a Form Letter,
I guess you win the standoff. When I heard that Target had donated money to MN Forward, in support of conservative candidate Tom Emmer, I was heartbroken. I loved Target. It was the place I went not just to buy toilet paper, sponges, and boring stuff like that, but to buy a momentary burst of feeling good – a cute glass, a stylish but totally affordable pair of boots, a notebook with a robot on it. When I felt sad or upset, I often drove to the Target five blocks from my house. It felt familiar, clean, organized – my happy place! But in addition to being a passionate shopper, I’m also queer. I live with my female partner and our child, a beautiful little girl who would exclaim, whenever we pulled into the Target parking lot, “Ida’s House!” By donating money in support of Tom Emmer, Target went from being a relatively gay-friendly corporation (offering domestic partnership benefits, marching in gay pride parades) to a supporter of somebody so ardently opposed to my “lifestyle” that he supports a fringe organization that thinks stoning homosexuals is the way to go! I immediately stopped shopping at Target and joined the boycott, writing you letters, guest blogging, speaking on the radio. I guess I was as passionate about the boycott as I had been about shopping at your store!
And yet… I’ve started shopping at Target again. I guess you knew that would happen. Maybe that explains why, even though I wrote you 6 letters about how upset I was, you answered only 2 – with the same form letter you sent to everyone who wrote to you. Maybe that explains why you didn’t counter your donation to MN Forward with a donation to a gay-friendly organization, despite a huge boycott of your stores in urban areas. You figured – wait it out. They’ll come back. we’re the only store where you can buy frozen peas, diapers, lip gloss, and a side table. Well… not the only store, but really… we KNOW these homos aren’t going to shop at Walmart! And you’re right. My decision to return to Target after 5 months came after weeks of pressure from my partner, who pointed out that of the major corporations running big stores, you are, despite it all, MORE gay-friendly than Walmart, Home Depot, Walgreens. We weren’t taking our money to small business run by gay-loving store owners. We were taking it to Menard’s and CVS. And my partner asked, were we really, really, REALLY never going to shop at Target again? I decided, begrudgingly, that my answer was “no.” We were holding out for something we weren’t going to get (acknowledgement that you were using money made from shoppers like us to support politicians who hate shoppers like us) and that eventually we would give up and go back. So I went back.
But you know what? I don’t love Target anymore. I feel tense when I go there, reluctant to go inside and reluctant to linger. I buy the stuff on my list, usually toilet paper, diapers, baby wipes, the occasional pair of Assets… you know, boring stuff, and I skip the fun sections altogether: clothes, makeup, fake Christmas trees. Target is definitely not my “happy place” anymore – it is functional shopping now, and I don’t know if it will ever again be the place where I drop most of my disposable income. Probably not. Because the message I got from you loud and clear, when I sent you letter after letter asking for, if not corporate accountability, than at least a personal response was this: Target doesn’t give a [BEEP] about any individual shopper. So this individual shopper no longer feels good about shopping with you. I feel like a sucker. A sucker who needs saline solution (7.99) and veggie crumbles (3.49) but not a gold tote bag (34.99) or a pair of grey high heeled over the knee boots (29.99). I want those things, but I don’t need to buy them. Not at Target anyway.
So I guess that’s that. I’m not the longterm holdout some of my friends have been. But I do know this – I was a loyal customer. And now I’m not. I feel the same way about Target as I do about Home Depot or Best Buy – they’re places I go when I’m in a hurry, when I don’t have time or energy to go somewhere I like better. Do I miss the old days? Sure. But I have a sinking feeling they’re gone forever. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. So, Target, I hope throwing a relatively small amount of money towards an organization that supports ardently homophobic (and anti-immigrant) candidates was worth losing the thousands of dollars people like me would have spent at your store. Was it? I await your response… no doubt in the form of a carefully worded, perfectly generic form letter.
Yours Truly (No More),