It seems likes ages ago—what with all the pomp, protests, and punditry surrounding the inaugural events. But it was just last week that my husband asked for my opinion on a few L.L. Bean shirts, noting they were running a 25 percent off sale.
“25 percent off,” I gasped, “on everything?”
I quickly suggested getting the pricey—but quality—wool rug I had been eyeing for some time. I had been watching for one of their rare 20 percent off deals, but 25 percent was unheard of.
But then I laughed out loud, because I remembered some brouhaha involving Trump tweeting about L.L. Bean. Could he have prompted the company to run a promotion to maintain goodwill with its customers?
Why Everyone Decided to Boycott L.L. Bean
We already saw one target of the Grab Your Wallet boycott—New Balance—go up in smoke. So it was not surprising to see L.L. Bean respond promptly, posting a Facebook update addressing Bean’s donation. The letter attempted to distance L.L. Bean from Linda Bean, granddaughter of founder Leon Leonwood Bean and the cousin to Executive Chairman and the letter’s author, Shawn Gorman:
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 … For the last 105 years, L.L. Bean has been singularly focused on offering high-quality, satisfaction-guaranteed products and outstanding customer service in the Maine tradition. The commitment has allowed us to not only employ 5,000 hard-working people, but also donate tens of millions of dollars to non-profit organizations promoting environmental stewardship, educational attainment and a host of other worthy causes at the local, state and national levels … We fully acknowledge and respect that some may disagree with the political views of a single member of our 10-person board of directors. Like most large families, the more than 50 family member-owners of the business hold views and embrace causes across the political spectrum.
This Is About Politics, Not Good Business
Detail provided by CNN.com explained a possible further motivation to Gorman’s gripe:
While Linda Bean has been active in Republican politics in Maine, her cousin Leon Gorman, a retired chairman and CEO of the company, has been an active Democratic donor, giving money to Barack Obama in both of his presidential runs and more than $70,000 to various Democratic party organizations during the 2012 campaign. His son Shawn Gorman, who is now executive chairman of the L.L. Bean board, posted a statement on Facebook Sunday decrying the boycott.
However, Linda was having none of her cousin’s attempts to isolate her from their grandfather’s company. She took the offensive, appearing on Fox & Friends to decry the double standards of the Social Justice Warriors bullies: “Both these guys won, Obama won, Trump won. My cousin’s candidate. My candidate. But I’m the one being targeted and vilified. … I’m not going to back down.”
Trump posted a tweet praising Linda and the Bean companies followed soon thereafter:
Trump’s Tweets Can Teach Corporate America Something
I’m no fan of Trump’s corporate tweets. They harm our free enterprise system, and as American Enterprise Institute columnist James Pethokoukis put it, “Having politicians bully companies — say, via Twitter — is bad economics. You want companies making decisions based on what will allow them to innovate and expand based on satisfying customers, not on what will keep Washington off their backs.”
But Trump’s tweets can teach corporate America something of value nonetheless: Americans are sick of public shaming and have been since the Social Justice Warriors tried destroying a dad and daughter pizza joint in rural Indiana. Beyond their own quarters, academia and the academy remain the sole slaves of SJW’s intolerant tolerance. Businesses can stand up to these bullies without fear, just as Linda Bean did, to now-President Trump’s applause. Next time the Social Justice Warriors charge, businesses should take to their favorite social media platform and instill a little cognitive dissonance:
“We make & sell the best boots. And doing so doesn’t require us to look in bedrooms or voting booths.”
“We treat all people equally & with respect: No matter whom they love—their partner or their President.”
“We support people no matter how they identify: Democrat or Republican.”
Businesses Should Not Listen to Intolerant Tolerance
However, since corporate America will likely take longer than the mainstream media to learn the lessons of Trump, don’t expect to see these messages anytime soon.
For me, in the meantime, I’ll just hope that in this case correlation equals causation and await the next Biggest. Discount. Yet. Now, if only Grab Your Wallet could find a connection between Athleta and Trump. I need a few more pairs of Metro pants.