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).
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:
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.
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.