Potrero Hill Democratic Club Members Boycott Trump-Branded Products

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The Potrero Hill Democratic Club (PHDC), a chapter of the San Francisco Democratic Party, is informally encouraging a boycott of San Francisco Bay Area stores that carry Trump-branded products.  According to Robert Boileau, PHDC’s first vice president, club members are concerned that Donald J. Trump and members of his family are profiting from the presidency.

“I believe the presidency should not be enriching him or his businesses. I realize it’s kind of hard when your name is your brand. Yet I think they should make an effort to divest. This is a good way to get them to divest,” said Boileau.

Boileau said the boycott idea first emerged at a January 2017 executive committee meeting.  “We then brought it up at the next general meeting. Many people…were saying their conscience wouldn’t let them buy Trump goods. We put it up to our members. Then we gave them an info sheet from the Grab Your Wallet campaign,” he said.

Grab Your Wallet, founded by Bay Area residents Shannon Coulter and Sue Atencio, identifies a long list of stores that carry Trump-branded goods, including Marshall’s and TJ Maxx – owned by TJX Companies – Saks 5th Avenue Off 5th and Lord & Taylor – owned by Hudson’s Bay Company – and Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, which are owned by Macy’s.

The list used to include Nordstrom, until that company dropped Ivanka Trump-branded products last winter. Grab Your Wallet’s catalogue is continually changing, as retailers take on or abandon Trump-branded products.

“We have 80 to 100 members in the PHDC, and over 50 people at an average meeting,” Tony Kelly, PHDC president said, though he doesn’t know how many members are engaging in the boycott.  “We don’t have to vote on it to do it. It really is much more of a do-ocracy than a democracy,” he said.

“…we made this decision based on performance,” Nordstrom stated.  “Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the [Ivanka Trump] brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now. We’ve had a great relationship with the Ivanka Trump team. We’ve had open conversations with them over the past year to share what we’ve seen and Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January.”

According to Cindy Wu, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) chair, her organization doesn’t have an official position on the boycott. “We are supportive of any effort any club makes. I think the work that the PHDC is doing is standing in line with democratic values,” she said.

“Obviously, the Republican Party is against it,” Howard Epstein, vice chair of communications for the San Francisco Republican Party (SFGOP), said. “They are acting like sore losers. They lost the election fair and square. They’re coming up with the boycott, anything related to Trump. If they need to do something, they need to focus on the next election.”

According to Boileau, “polite conversation” discouraging stores from carrying Trump-branded products haven’t been persuasive.  “There was some conversation at our March 7, 2017 meeting about…picketing these stores. The next step on this is to go to the presidents of the other Democratic clubs in town to see if they want to take that step with us,” he said.

Boileau said it’s challenging to keep track of which stores in the area merit being boycotted. “Bed Bath & Beyond only had one thing on the list, an Ivanka baby diaper bag. When I checked, they did not have that. The inventory varies from store to store in some cases. It’s not clear to me whether store managers have the power to set their inventory,” he said.

Joni Eisen, former PHDC president, said that while she supports the boycott, she doesn’t consider it “a major thing to be doing in terms of the resistance. It’s important not to be sidetracked by what Trump says or does about the money he’s making. It’s more important to watch the under-the-radar evil his minions are doing. People should keep their eyes open, speak out against harmful policy decisions, and, whenever they see their legislator take a stand against real injustice, thank her for doing that.”

Last month, Modern Appealing Clothing, which has an outlet in Dogpatch, sued Ivanka Trump’s company over unfair competition.  The class action lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, claims that Ivanka Trump’s brand got a boost from Donald Trump’s tweets blasting Nordstrom for dropping her line, and from Kellyanne Conway telling people to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” during an interview with Fox News.  Despite Nordstrom and other retailers, including Sears and Kmart, dropping Trump’s line, Courthouse News reports the brand’s sales grew 346 percent between January and February. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on behalf of women’s clothing retailers operating in California since January, and for an order preventing the Ivanka Trump brand from being sold in the state.