Where to Shop Other than Target or Best Buy?

Jason DeRusha brings up a good point about the challenge of making out locally headquartered big box stores feel some pain over their funding of the newly formed “independent expenditure campaign”, MNForward (which is using the money to run ads in support Tom Emmer).

Jason DeRusha on Boycott Challenges

Target has been getting some national attention over this due to Emmer’s horrendous political record on GLBT issues. The Targeting GLBT blog is doing a great job rolling up the blowback. It sure looks like Target has receive more than $150,000 worth of negative publicity in over their $150,000 investment in political ads for Emmer.

Now that Best Buy has threw some money into MNForward as well, where should people who are not interested in supporting Target or Best Buy turn to buy household items and electronics? David Brauer brainstormed Amazon.com:

David Brauer on Amazon as a Target & Best Buy Alternative

I think Brauer’s onto something there. In fact, I’m already there. I looked up my historical transactions at Target via my Mint.com account and found out that I’ve spent a whopping $151.88 at Target over the past 2.5 years.

My Spending at Target

Over that same time period, I had no credit card transactions at Best Buy, but I do remember using a gift card someone gave me.

Over the same time period, I’ve spent $22,479.07 at Amazon. How? Amazon is where I buy nearly all of my electronics. I buy granola bars, quinoa, bike supplies, travel gear, lots of books, laundry detergent, toilet paper, napkins, shavers, deodorant, crackers, toothpaste, hardware supplies, etc. Nearly everything I could buy at Target or Best Buy outside of soda. Nearly all of it ships to me for free in 2 days as an Amazon Prime member, which is clearly worth it based on how much I buy from them. (By the way, you can become an Amazon Prime member for free if you’re a student with a .edu email address. Seriously, do that now.)

Regarding Amazon’s political contributions, see for yourself at Open Secrets. And, here are the numbers for Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos.

Regarding the environmental impact, I don’t think it’s as large as Brauer seems to think. Think about this: If I buy something from Target, it makes its way all the way to the Target store via a combination of boats, trains, and trucks from all over the world. But then I use my car to make a 5 mile round trip to Target to move a few pounds of product the last few miles to my home. When I buy from Amazon, last few miles of delivery are via UPS or USPS delivery trucks that have much better products to vehicle weight ratios, which makes me think that the environmental cost of purchasing from Amazon may actually be less than Target or Best Buy. (I’d love to see more data on this theory.)

Either way, it’s good to know that there is at least one good alternative to Target and Best Buy for those who’d choose to spend their money elsewhere for a variety of reasons. For me, the switch to Amazon was due to convenience (I immediately buy stuff when I need it from my computer or phone, which saves time), price (Amazon is very competitive AND I only buy what I need rather than fill my cart with impulse buys), and customer service (I’d rather sample reviews sorted by quality on Amazon than talk to a random member of the Blue Shirt Nation).

Target and Best Buy’s moves into union busting, gay bashing, xenophobic politics isn’t what moved me away from these two retailers, but it certainly reinforces that I’ve made the right decision for myself.

18 thoughts on “Where to Shop Other than Target or Best Buy?”

  1. I buy a lot of crap at Target mainly for convenience reasons, but I could also say that it’s supporting local economy on many levels. From the cashiers at the store to the corporate employees to all of the local creatives that work directly or indirectly for Target, this town has a lot of people working for Target and their success is important to the local economy.

    Where we spend our money is definitely important, and I really wish Target wouldn’t have financially supported a group like MNForward, but this is an interesting story because of Targets involvement in the community.

  2. Meh. I hook up the trailer and bike to Target, unless the car-happy wife is with me. πŸ˜‰

    I really don’t think that these “boycotts” are really effective anyway. How many Target shoppers are there that just don’t care in comparison to those who do? I don’t have hard figures, but I’d be willing to bet the ration is staggering.

    Maybe I’m cray, but wouldn’t a civil discourse with Target management get further than yet another poorly organized boycott? (On a side note, how many e-mails have I gotten over the years saying I need to boycott this or that over the years? How about those “don’t buy gas” days? How well have those worked?) Target is a big financial backer of the Pride festivities, how about we let those two entities sit down and hash things out? You know, “Hey, Target, I know you support us and all, but this is a bit of a slap to the face, you know? Let’s talk before you offer us more money.”

    Just a final offside guess, but I’m thinking that Target may have given the money to MN Forward based on a pro-business agenda without any real regard for whatever else might be supported.

  3. @Moe, diapers are a big seller on Amazon. I know because I’ve sold a ton of them through affiliate advertising. I think the reason is, as you mention with Target, convenience. In two clicks a new box of Huggies will be at your door in 2 days with free shipping. That’s convenient compared to loading up the little one for a trip to a big box store.

    Regarding the local workforce associated with the company, I’d hope that they could have some influence over Target getting involved with political groups that seem to be out of sync with the company’s well deserved reputation as one of the more GLBT friendly companies in their industry. Competition-wise, Amazon has simply crushed Target on the web. If I’m going to spend altruistically, it seems like I’m better off saving on my dry goods purchases and using the savings to spend more with non-big box store retailers. I have a hunch that my dollar stays in the community a bit longer if I spend it with a local restaurant or coop than a publicly traded company with local roots. Although, I suppose the money spent at Target that ends up creating commercials for Tom Emmer that run on local TV stations is certainly staying close to home for a bit.

  4. Target is a major supporter of TC Pride. Like most corporations they don’t want to alienate a shopping demographic. Also like most corporations, they want to squeeze every dollar of profit they can and pay as few taxes as possible. No surprise to me the upper tier would support a Republican candidate.

    Hey on Amazon Prime do you (if you’re not a student) have to pay the fee yearly or is it a one time thing?

  5. @Matthew, I’m sure that the GLBT community and supporters – both inside and outside of Target – are letting Target know, civilly, how they feel about this decision. I think some are shocked to see Target make this move, since it seems out of character with how they present themselves at Pride or in PR in general. All decisions have consequences. In this case, I imagine some loyal customers that bought into the story Target’s PR was selling are going to have a different impression of Target’s brand than they had in the past. Of course, others will likely be more loyal because of this.

  6. “Hey baby, could you hold your poop and pee until you see the UPS truck.”

    Parenting is not a world conducive to waiting.

    As for boycotting, I had a friend who refused to buy books at Barnes and Noble. She wanted to support local booksellers. She only shopped at Borders Books.

  7. Paul, I don’t have a lot of diaper changing experience, but if diaper companies haven’t included a “time to buy more diapers” indicator in their packages yet, they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to save their customers (and their babies) some stress.

    Buying locally and buying from Borders? Maybe in Ann Arbor, MI. Although that would still feel about as altruistic as buying from Target feels to me.

  8. My real point is that we all have imperfect knowledge. Boycotting a company for who they donate to may feel good, but does anyone know to whom their local tavern keeper donates? Or their accountant? Or maybe the kid who mows their grass gives all of his money to some strange cult?

  9. Mark, you comment makes me feel like Tom Emmer. Actually, more like a less homophobic version. Horner?

    I think that government considers employment to be a top priority. Why? Because it needs employment in order to have revenue.

  10. @Paul, based on Foursquare check-ins, I think my local tavern owner blows his cash on trips to the zoo with his kids. Boycott!

    In the case of Target, I think this has become a relatively large story due to the inconsistency in their PR and their politics. Preaching inclusiveness while financially supporting a candidate that has actively worked to prevent it is where things get interesting. We don’t expect people or companies to be perfect, but a little consistency is nice.

  11. You’re all a bunch of gadget-addicted crackheads. Don’t buy ANYTHING from ANYONE.

    Until government makes employment its #1 priority, why should any American do anything to prop up this phony consumer culture that’s looting our planet, destroying our environment and climate, all while propagating the moral rot inherent in consumerism?

  12. I personally doubt that a boycott itself will be effective, but I will certainly buy less from Target becasue I think the contribution is offensive. I think negative press and loud feedback will be effective. Ultimately, the shareholders and the Board are about making a profit and, if there is enough bad press, they may tell CEO Steinhaffel to keep his politics to himself and get back to running the company.

  13. @Barry, I bet you’re right about the effectiveness of a boycott. While it’s tough to change a corporation, it’s easy to change one’s own buying habits. If people aren’t comfortable with spending money at Target, they do indeed have options.

    There has certainly been more than $150,000 in earned negative press for Target out of this.

  14. Seriously? Should I be demanding to know who my shoe repair guy voted for? Do we really need to balkanize ourselves into only having dealings with people we 100% agree with on everything? My brother supports candidates that I don’t like. Should I disown him and never talk to him again? Charles Lindberg had some sketchy politics. Should I only fly out of Rochester? Where does this end? Am I allowed to do business/befriend/talk to people who vote the other way once in awhile? What a rigid and sterile way to live your life.

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