L.L. Bean, a seemingly a-political purveyor of duck boots, has found themselves in the middle of a Trump-inspired boycott this week. And now the President-elect and Tweeter-in-chief has weighed in:
Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. @LBPerfectMaine- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017
The controversy began last week when the company was targeted as part of Grab Your Wallet, a boycott of organizations that support or "normalize" the President-elect. On January 6, Shannon Coulter, founder of Grab Your Wallet added the Maine-based clothing line to the group's list of brands and retailers to boycott.
This was prompted by an Associated Press report that Linda Bean, a member of the family which owns L.L. Bean, had contributed $60,000 to Making America Great Again LLC; her donation exceeds the individual limit of $5,000.
"The Federal Election Commission has been looking into Linda Bean's donation activities during the election, so we now have more details on her political contributions. After learning these details, there was a strong desire among #GrabYourWallet participants to see the company added to the boycott list," Coulter said in an email to Town & Country.
Other retailers on the list include stores such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom among others that do business with the Trump family or sell Trump family products like Ivanka's fashion line. It also includes advertisers on the Celebrity Apprentice, corporations owned by members of the Trump family, and companies in which members of the board have publicly raised funds for or endorsed Trump. See the full list, here.
"Our goal is to be able to shop with a clear conscience and to flex our consumer power in favor of a more respectful and inclusive society," explained Coulter of the movement. "For us, that means not doing business with companies that do business with the Trump family and/or those that contributed to their rise to political power."
On January 8, L.L. Bean posted the following statement, as a response to the company's addition to Grab Your Wallet.
"We were disappointed to learn that Grab Your Wallet is advocating a boycott against L.L.Bean solely because Linda Bean, who is only one of 50+ family members involved with the business, personally supported Donald Trump for President," reads the Facebook post, which is attributed to L.L.Bean Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman.
"We are deeply troubled by the portrayal of L.L.Bean as a supporter of any political agenda. L.L.Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters, or make political contributions. Simply put, we stay out of politics."
The post suggests that the company's addition to the boycott is "misguided" and requests that they be removed from the list. It also calls attention to L.L. Bean's philanthropic efforts and the diverse values of its employees.
"I can understand why they're concerned," says Coulter. "Women drive 70 to 85 percent of consumer purchases and I've spoken to hundreds of women over the last few days who were appalled to learn that L.L Bean board member and part-owner Linda Bean not only contributed to a Donald Trump PAC but has ties to the Council for National Policy, which has been flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group," she continued, providing a link to the Southern Poverty Law Center's report on the organization. After the publication of this story, it was brought to our attention that the Council for National Policy has not been identified as a hate group by the SPLC. That said, the SPLC's dispatch on the group does include the following description:
"What is most remarkable about the directory is that it reveals how the CNP has become a key meeting place where ostensibly mainstream conservatives interact with individuals who are, by any reasonable definition, genuinely extremist."
Bean's association with the group is hardly covert; she has it listed on her public LinkedIn profile.
"As fans of L.L. Bean's products, we're hoping the company is seriously evaluating whether board member and part-owner Linda Bean's contributions to the company are worth the damage she continues to inflict on L.L. Bean's brand and reputation," Coulter continued.
"For many consumers, it's an easy call to take their business elsewhere when they learn a company's board member has ties to a hate group or does fundraising for a candidate who mocks disabled people and speaks about women the way Donald Trump does. It isn't about political affiliation. It's about common decency and respect. We can vote this way every day."
"Despite the recent developments, L.L.Bean's position remains the same: no political endorsements or contributions. Period. As always our top priorities remain making boots, selling products and serving our customers," L.L. Bean senior public affairs manager Carolyn Beem told Esquire.com following Trump's post.
Linda Bean herself went on Fox News Thursday morning to call the boycott "bullying."
The president-elect's tweets have the potential to impact business in a major way. In fact, there is a new app, called Trigger that will alert you if he mentions a stock you own in one of his social media posts, and will advise you to buy, sell, or short based on his messaging. In the short time since the election, Trump has already sent stock prices of Toyota and Boeing plummeting with negative posts. It remains to be seen how his show of support will affect L.L. Bean.
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