It began when it dawned on me a favorite local retailer and I were on opposite sides of a social issue, and ended the night of Election Day, when I watched (on television) the co-founder of a business I’ve come rely on and trust growl about what America will become if his candidate, and not mine, was not elected. In between was plenty of advice, from readers and others, and for all of that I thank them.
Should I spend my money in places where owners take their profit and dedicate a portion of it to causes with which I oppose?
Well, no. In a society with a plurality of options, the true and lasting legacy of the ‘60s, I can and should patronize places attuned to my preferences. If the store owner throws his donor’s dollar — which is to say, money he got from me — at one side of a hot-button issue, and I’m on the other, why am I playing this game? Am I not supporting a mission with which I disagree?
Then again, yes. What the merchant does with his profit is no more business of mine than his interest in how I got the money to pay for that ice cream cone/pickup truck/box of nails. His only obligation to me is to provide what I want at a price I can handle, and maybe a warranty and a pleasant shopping experience, and anyway, he doesn’t ask about my personal choices and I don’t tell.
So I batted this dilemma around for, well, a lot of my life, and after I first broached the issue in print a number of readers offered advice (split right down the middle, incidentally), but my decision came down to seeing the co-founder (that’s how the graphic read) of Home Depot, railing on Fox News about the crucial importance of his candidate winning the presidential election.
Home Depot. A fine store, and provider of many of the things I’ve needed over the years, although I can say the same about its many competitors, and who’s to say the competitors are not equally opposed to my views? I’ve had a grudge against Lowe’s ever since it pulled its advertising from the television program “All American Muslim,” which purported to sympathetically highlight the lifestyles of Muslim immigrants, but it did not stop me from shopping there.
So what would you do?
I can hear it already: stop watching Fox News.
I have decided my discriminatory attitude is unfair, un-American, selfish and not worth the effort. It would not be hard to investigate every purveyor of everything I buy and find something objectionable about each of them, but what’s the point? Too busy to hate, that’s me, and the people with whom I do business, face-to-face, likely agree and disagree with my interests in equal numbers.
Chick-fil-A, a chicken sandwich shop, comes to mind, a family-owned business openly influenced by its owners’ Southern Baptist leanings, to the point the stores close on Sundays and heavy donations have been made to groups opposing same-sex marriage. While I disagree with the firm’s stance on the issue, I note it does not deny service to its opponents, nor does it refuse to hire those who object to the corporate attitude.
I’ll decline to patronize the place on a more discrete basis: I’m a cheeseburger man.
Closed-mindedness is a mistake, in my book, and finding the business totally in tune with my beliefs is unlikely and wasteful of time. (It also makes me immune to enterprises that brag about how do-good they are, although it pleased and surprised me to learn one of the most serious recyclers in America is General Motors.)
The things I’ve rejected in life, I’ve rejected after serious contemplation and for reasons I consider legitimate. It occurs to me I have a long-lasting friendship with someone who spends his money in ways I never would, and vice versa, and offering advice in that area would likely tarnish the relationship.
Thus it will be, I’ve decided, with my business dealings. You throw your money around your way. I’ll throw around mine my way, and hope a place named Adolf’s Neo-Nazi Hot and Tasty Cheeseburgers never opens anywhere near me.
More to the point, thanks, readers, for your advice and interest. You make it a pleasure to claim to be open-minded.
Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.