Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Red state/Blue state Walmart/Trader Joe's
I caught an interesting blog post on the Denver Westworld site, in which they note that Boulder actively campaigned for a Trader Joe's store which has just been announced to general delight in the People's Republic of Boulder. (They were slightly miffed that Trader Joe's can only open one store in Colorado that sells wine, and that one outlet will be in Denver.)
By contrast, there's a grassroots movement in Boulder to prevent Walmart from opening a store there. Patricia Calhoun, who reported this dichotomy, cites this as an example of Colorado's 'swing state' mentality, characterizing Trader Joe's shoppers as the blue state/coastal/lefty-liberal Coloradans, and the Walmart shoppers as the red state conservatives.
One reason Trader Joe's brand is so strong is that the company has managed to draft a corps of fanatical evangelists, while remaining almost completely opaque at the management level, and with next to no transparency as regards political or quasi-political issues like GMOs in food, farmworker's rights, and sustainability. So what are "Joe's" own political views?
It's hard to tell. According to the Center for Responsive Politics' site OpenSecrets.org, Trader Joe's spent $20k to lobby Congress in 2002, but I don't know what they were lobbying for.
Trader Joe's also donated about $15k between 2004-'12, with most of that money going to Democratic candidates and causes, suggesting that Calhoun's characterization of Trader Joe's as leaning 'blue' is correct. It's interesting to note, however, that the average amount Trader Joe's donated to Republican congressional candidates has increased in recent years, and now nearly matches the amount donated to Democratic Party congressional candidates.
Statistics are not yet available for the current political season. I'll try to remember to check back in a few months, and tell you how Trader Joe's 'voted' with its donations during this Presidential election.