May 16, 2006

Flower to the People

There is this wacky florist near me that is at war with somebody. That someone happens to be George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, you know, the usual suspects when it comes to lefty combatants. During the elections of 2004 this fellow used his store's marquee to promote John Kerry and to denigrate George W. He plastered all the usual stock slogans on the sign. Some were very vitriolic, most were juvenile. I sure have no quarrel with his right to say whatever he chooses, but once he got past "Vote for Kerry", it was quagmire time. He evidently believed this was a worthwhile undertaking but aparently didn't realize that it wasn't a cunning marketing strategy. Even in a very Blue county like ours it doesn't pay to alienate 40% of your potential patrons. As time passed his sign campaign would keep us up-to-date about the great personal sacrifice he was making in support of his bold public stand. He posted that he had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales because of his brave, very public, very principled beliefs. One time he thanked those courageous Republicans that broke rank with their fellows in a show of solidarity with him. He thanked the liberals that rallied to his cause, presumably by increasing their flower purchases. This guy is a man on a mission, supported by all open-minded citizens and opposed only by far-right bigots. Or so he would have us believe. Risking your business to rant at the President and publicly boasting about it is not any different than shooting yourself in the foot in protest of US government policy and bragging about that. Apart from the hard left, people will just think you are nuts. When I passed his place today I noticed that his sign advertised an overstock sale on Roses due to, "The GOP Boycott". Huh? Now, I am a card carrying member of the GOP and I was unaware of the boycott. I do know several people who choose not to do business with a flower guy who is obsessed with pushing his politics on them. But it is a not formal movement, so far as I can tell. Boycotts are funny things anyway. They almost never work because consumers act in their own interest. The weekly attempts to boycott Exxon or Chevron through a "buy no gas day" prove the point. The snooty university elite routinely vow to boycott Wal-Mart, but they don't shop there anyway. If Wal-Mart was to buy out Birkenstock you would have to erect a fence to keep these boneheads out. Christians vowed to boycott Disney over 'Gay Day' until they realized that the boycott robbed their kids way more than it could harm Disney. I prefer to think that I make choices about where I spend my money for a variety of reasons, some principled, some not. For example, I prefer Target to Wal-Mart, not because I think Wal-Mart is a cancer on the American Way, but rather because I find Wal-Mart's stores creepy and crowded and dirty. I don't trade at Starbucks because they have pretentious names for coffee and no damn 17 year-old gets to correct me when I ask for a large coffee. You get the idea, I do what I do for reasons that are often capricious, sometimes unreasonable and often unpredictable. They are different from your reasons, but usually serve my interests. I think my flower guy picked the wrong fight, lost some business and now recognizes the silliness in alienating customers in order to vent a personal agenda. His latest "boycott sale" is a transparent attempt to keep his Quixotian campaign alive. Nothing a martyr hates more than irrelevance. My theory is keep business business, and politics politics. An undeniable truth of life is that it is best not to piss-off the people you are trying to sell to. If commercial suicide is your aim, you don't get to bellyache about your demise. Tag:

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