Meet the women trying to hit the Trumps where it hurts them most.
In the wake of Donald Trump winning the presidency, some shoppers are opening their wallets. Many others are deciding to close them.
Back in October, Shannon Coulter, a 45-year-old marketing professional based out of the Bay Area, took to Twitter to talk about her ambivalence in shopping at stores like Nordstrom that carry merchandise from Trump family brands. She got an overwhelming response from followers who agreed with this sentiment. Coulter, along with another woman she met on Twitter, Sue Atencio, teamed up to create a comprehensive list of companies carrying Trump products to boycott. This spreadsheet, which is being updated on an ongoing basis and which only Coulter has editing access to, includes HSN, Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, Century 21, DSW, Marshall’s, Dillard’s, TJ Maxx, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Zappos, Wayfair, and more. The list also includes contact information for the brands’ customer service, public relations personnel, and corporate headquarters. (All brands Racked reached out to declined to participate in this story).
Coulter’s husband came up with the hashtag #GrabYourWallet — a play on Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” line the Washington Post exposed in a video in October — and both the hashtag and spreadsheet have been shared hundreds of thousands of times over the past month. While she doesn’t have numbers on the reach of the spreadsheet, Twitter metrics say the hashtag has reached over 183 million people. She’s also added companies to the list that have CEOs who’ve either endorsed Trump or helped him campaign, including Jenny Craig and New Balance.
“What this boycott means to me is that companies that I love, like Nordstrom and Amazon, are making money from the Donald Trump campaign, which to me is synonymous with hate and divisiveness so I can’t, in good faith, shop there anymore,” Coulter told Racked over the phone earlier today. “People aren’t boycotting them to punish them or ruin any businesses. They want to support these companies but can’t do so in good conscience.”
Many of the brands on the boycott list are mainly being called out for selling merchandise from the Ivanka Trump line; Coulter says she “very much includes Ivanka in this boycott because she made her father palatable to many young female voters, and her being on the campaign trail, and returning to campaign with him after the Trump tapes, has as much to do with her ambitions as it has to do with her father’s.”
To some, this boycott is about hurting the Trumps monetarily.
“I would like the Trumps to be damaged financially for the pain they have inflicted on minorities and women during the election,” a boycotter named Robin Brenizer writes to me via email. “All choices are political. The choice to ignore racism and sexual assault against women is a political choice. [Brands carrying Trump products] have that right to ignore it and we have the right to protest by grabbing our wallet. If you remain ‘apolitical’ at a time where minorities are being spit on in the streets, you are turning a blind eye to people for profits.”
For others, it’s about giving women a safe shopping environment without having to deal with “bad memories or negative associations,” Coulter says. She points to responses from shoppers who’ve tweeted things like “Neiman Marcus: Please remove your Ivanka collection. It invokes the trauma of sexual assault” as well as tweets like “Bought an Ivanka Blouse, returned it Just could not stomach it... or her family.”
“Women are having visceral reactions to seeing Ivanka Trump products in stores; they say it feels like touching fire, they yell, they run. The brand implications of what has happened here is profound,” Coulter says. “And there are plenty of retail experiences out there where we don’t have to experience that.”
Initially, it seemed doubtful Coulter’s list of businesses to boycott would make any sort of dent. While a brand like Macy’s dropped Trump’s line of clothing from all its stores following Trump’s remarks regarding Mexicans immigrants (and confirmed last week that it had no plans to bring the label back), most companies have remained apolitical. A Nordstrom customer, for example, wrote an open letter to the department store last month requesting it drop all products from Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing. After a few days of silence, Nordstrom defended the selling of Trump lines, writing on Twitter that it hopes “that offering a vendor's products isn't misunderstood as us taking a political position; we're not. We recognize our customers can make choices about what they purchase based on personal views & we'll continue to give them options.”
But the initiative of Coulter, and the thousands of shoppers who’ve announced they are boycotting the stores on the spreadsheet, hasn’t totally fallen on deaf ears. One brand, Shoes.com, announced to Coulter via Twitter over the weekend that it was dropping shoes from the Ivanka Trump collection. Shoppers have since come out to pledge their business to Shoes.com, rather than BlueFly or Zappos.
It’s unclear how deep the impact from this boycott list will be. Data from ShopRunner found that Ivanka Trump’s brand has seen a 54 percent decrease in “interest” since the #GrabYourWallet campaign began a few weeks ago, according to Fast Company. Time will only tell if other companies give in but in the mean time, shoppers are ready to double down. Alix McAlpine, an LA resident who works at Giphy, says she’s keen on boycotting all the big box retailers on the list, as convenient as their services are, and has already canceled her Amazon Prime membership.
“I think more people need to be aware that these big online retailers are all enabling Trump,” says McAlpine. “If people are against what Trump stands for, they should be careful not to reap the benefits of the people who back him. We’re showing that we won’t stand for this.”
Brenizer has already broken up with her sales associate at Nordstrom, a store she says she easily drops $10,000 at annually. The decision was difficult but necessary to her.
“I'm going to continue to boycott and protest with the only thing a Trump hears,” she says. “Coins rattling in their pockets.”