How do we decide where to spend our hard-earned dollars? These choices are often based on convenience, competitive prices, the quality of the products and the overall shopping experience. But increasingly, it’s also based on a company’s values.
Recent examples abound of companies becoming more politically outspoken and generously donating to causes that alienate many Americans; in essence, echoing the polarization that seems to be increasing by the day.
To name a few:
· Balenciaga has come under fire for sexualizing young children in a set of new ads.
· The parent company of Mailchimp, QuickBooks and Mint, among others, now puts tampons in men’s bathrooms.
· H&M and Zara have embraced gender neutral clothing lines, and Target also has gender-free clothing for kids.
· Levi-Strauss has openly donated to Planned Parenthood, and fired a top executive after she spoke publicly about opposing school closures during COVID.
· Starbucks covers travel expenses for employees’ abortions and gender-transitioning procedures.
· Penzey’s spice company has a vitriolic “About Republicans” section on the company’s website.
· LOL Surprise Dolls now include male genitalia on their male dolls.
So what should consumers do when they no longer want to support these businesses, but aren’t aware of alternatives?
That’s the conundrum that an app called PublicSq. is trying to solve. It connects freedom-loving Americans with like-minded businesses, and now has roughly 50,000 businesses listed nationwide.
PublicSq. Co-Founder and Vice President Christina Werner recently joined the MOMlitics podcast, and discussed how Americans can shop without a guilty conscience.
She says today, there’s unfortunately a need for PublicSq., perhaps more than ever. “Corporate America is actively working to destroy the values that a majority of Americans and moms hold dear; the values that make our country so special in the first place.”
She continues, “But the sad thing is: what do the majority of tens of thousands of conservatives continue to do? We continue giving them our money. And I don’t believe that this is because it’s really what we want to do; I just feel like moms will say, well, what’s my other option?”
Contrary to the companies many PublicSq. users are attempting to avoid, Werner says many of the PublicSq. businesses are not very politically outspoken. Referring to popular California-based jeans company, Carly Jean, Werner says, “When you go to their website, they don’t take some crazy conservative stance. They don’t have guns or eagles or American flags flying…but it’s a very wholesome company. I know I can send my 13 year-old daughter to their website and I know none of it’s going to be inappropriate or scandalous. We just know their core values.”
Shopping based on political ideology is a noble pursuit, but is it realistic for families on a budget? Werner admits: “We vote with our wallets, and these big companies will certainly notice when the majority of America stops supporting them.” Still, she says there are some options on PublicSq. of products that are competitive, price-wise, with Walmart and Target. There are also other ways to support conservative businesses; for instance, shifting where you bank. Several financial institutions have recently come under fire for dropping customers based on political affiliations.
PublicSq. regularly publishes blog and social media posts, suggesting brands to swap in or out, based on the companies’ values. But is it hypocritical to boycott one business for their political views and causes they fund, and then turn around and support businesses who espouse opposite viewpoints?
She says it’s not an accurate comparison, because it’s more about pushing back against a powerful agenda that’s being pushed much too far. She says, “In corporate America, and the far left, it’s just gotten a little nasty. The things that they’re saying. And it’s like, ‘Oh gosh, I don’t want my 13 year-old going onto a makeup website and seeing a guy that’s putting on his makeup with his beard.’ I don’t care if a guy wants to wear makeup. But to me that shows this virtue signaling of a company that is more concerned about what a man thinks when he gets onto this makeup website than my 13 year-old and the average American mama. I’m just not ok with that.”
So what can you do if you don’t want to support woke businesses? Werner hopes the public can help their start-up grow: “We’re really in a season of growing, and we’re asking our community to grow with us. So if you jump on the app and don’t see a coffee shop in your neighborhood…if you know those likeminded businesses, let them know about PublicSq. It’s free for them to get on, and that way more people in your community can find them.”
An unexpected benefit? Connecting with likeminded individuals, which is often difficult in America’s polarized political climate. She says when a customer walks into business and mentioned they found them on PublicSq., or when she’s wearing her PublicSq. t-shirt in an airport and someone recognizes it, there’s an instant understanding.
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