President Donald Trump, who apparently has nothing better to do, is sending shock waves through the retail world Wednesday, as some retailers dump his family's products and others desperately curry favor with the mercurial Commander in Chief.
It's likely that by now you're familiar with the #grabyourwallet campaign, a boycott movement launched when, they say, "a brand strategist and a grandmother simultaneously realized they could no longer in good conscience shop at retailers that do business with the Trump family." The result was this spreadsheet tracking companies' relationship with the President and his family members — a spreadsheet that movement founders Shannon Coulter and Sue Atencio say has been used by over 600 million people.
Until last week, Nordstrom was on the top of the #grabyourwallet rogues' gallery, for their role in the sales of Ivanka Trump brand shoes, clothing, and handbags. But on February 2, the company announced that it would stop carrying those goods due to poor sales, saying via statement that “Each year we cut about 10% [of brands] and refresh our assortment with about the same amount. In this case, based on the brand’s performance we’ve decided not to buy it for this season.”
“The cause and effect here is very clear,” Coulter told the Washington Post via email last week. “Over 230,000 Tweets and who knows how many millions of dollars’ worth of missed purchases later, they finally heard us.”
But what is 230,000 tweets compared to one tweet from the President? Because that's what hit Nordstrom Wednesday morning, when Trump, who was supposedly in a Daily Intelligence Briefing scheduled to begin 21 minutes earlier, instead tweeted this:
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
It was subsequently retweeted by the official @POTUS account, by god only knows who.
Official @POTUS account just retweeted Trump's tweet targeting an American company for dropping his daughter's fashion line—Trump business. pic.twitter.com/flBZ0bvfU8— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 8, 2017
According to CNBC, Nordstrom shares dropped by 1 percent immediately following the presidental censure, then "turned positive and were recently up 3 percent in afternoon trading."
When asked about the dust-up today, White House Sean Spicer, who is definitely not a lady, said that Nordstrom's decision to drop the honestly, basic af and legally besieged fashion line, was "an attack" on Trump's daughter, and that "he has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success."
Spicer on Nordstrom: “a direct attack on [President Trump’s] policies and [Ivanka Trump’s] name.” Says the company is still Ivanka's name. pic.twitter.com/6pVgyStH1z— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 8, 2017
According to Norm Eisen, who was the chief ethics lawyer for the Obama White House, Trump's tweet (and subsequent retweet) "gave Nordstrom standing to sue him under unfair competition laws, particularly California’s state law, which protects against any business practice deemed 'unfair,' 'unlawful' or 'fraudulent,'" Slate reports.
Outrageous. @nordstrom, others injured should consider suing, incl. under CA Unfair Comp Law, forbidding "any unfair biz act." I will help! https://t.co/Y18Lml3rXk— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) February 8, 2017
While the president is generally shielded from lawsuits over his official conduct while in office, that blanket protection does not apply to his private or business conduct. Nordstrom, however, would need to be able to show it was harmed economically. More immediately, though, the company would have to decide if it’s worth the risk of further angering a president who has yet again made it clear that he’s willing to single out specific companies that dare cross him.
Update: Nordstrom released a second statement Wednesday, more strongly asserting the weak sales of the Trump brand and saying that Ivanka Trump was told that the company would be dropping her line in "early January."
NEW stmt from @Nordstrom doubles down on @IvankaTrumpHQ brand's performance - Trump was personally informed of the decision in early January pic.twitter.com/ykf0HCfkJp— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) February 8, 2017
But soon we might see yet another angry tweet from the president, as the New York Times reports that discount retailers T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are also dumping Ivanka's (presumably remaindered) goods, as a note sent to employees Wednesday told staffers "not to display Ivanka Trump merchandise separately and to throw away Ivanka Trump signs."
“Effective immediately, please remove all Ivanka Trump merchandise from features and mix into the runs.”, the note read. (For those of you spared mall jobs, "runs" do not refer to loose stools, but are the lengthy racks used by retailers like TJ Maxx to hang clothing on the retail floor) “All Ivanka Trump signs should be discarded,” the note continued.
A company spokesperson confirmed the order to the Times, saying that “The communication was intended to instruct stores to mix this line of merchandise into our racks, not to remove it from the sales floor. We offer a rapidly changing selection of merchandise for our customers, and brands are featured based on a number of factors.”
As of publication time, TJ Maxx remains on #grabyourwallet's top ten list of "Companies We're Boycotting."
One company sure to shoot to the top of the #grabyourwallet list (maybe they can have Nordstrom's spot?) is Under Armour, which should be on everyone's shit list already for their dumb-looking Curry 3 shoe, footwear unworthy of Golden State Warrior Steph Curry (after whom they are named). Despite the association with the NBA star, no one was buying the Curry 3s or much else from the company, sending their stock prices into stagnation and its CFO out the door, GQ reports. Perhaps those struggles are why Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has announced wholehearted support for Trump, saying in a CNBC interview that Trump is a "real asset...He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive."
[Update: Curry has now responded to the controversy, saying of Plank's remark, "I agree with that description... if you remove the ‘et’."]
Plank, who along with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, Ford CEO Mark Fields, Dell's Michael Dell, General Electric's Jeff Immelt, Tesla's Elon Musk, U.S. Steel's Mario Longhi, and Boeing's Dennis Muilenburg, is a member of Trump's manufacturing council, said "I'm a big fan of people that operate in the world of 'publish and iterate' versus 'think, think, think, think, think', so there's a lot that I respect there."
Last week, Nike, Asics, and Adidas all issued statements against Trump's controversial immigration ban. Under Armour did not, GQ reports. However, in an email statement sent to media, Under Armour says that they "engage in policy, not politics."
The question now, perhaps, is if members of Under Armour's "team roster," a list of endorsees that includes Curry, Cam Newton, Misty Copeland, and SF Giant Buster Posey (and many more) agree that the personal can be separated from the political in a case like this one. As we wait for Trump to weigh in on what stores should sell whose lines next, perhaps you should ask them! Most of them are on Twitter, and I'm sure Spicer would agree that you have "every right" to do so.