When they built the new Target in 2007, just a couple of miles from our house, we were happy to have an alternative to Wal-Mart that was quite a bit closer and a smidgeon classier, albeit also a little more expensive.
I’ve been shopping there for the past 7 years, and sadly, I’ve watched things go downhill over that time – service and selection, in particular. Everything except prices, which steadily continued their upward trajectory. A few weeks ago, I darkened their door for the last time.
Dear Target: I’m calling it quits. It wasn’t because I so often go in there and stand in a long line at the one open checkout counter. It wasn’t because you have the absolutely ugliest clothes for sale that I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t because you stopped making Archer Farms yogurt, which I loved. It wasn’t even because you quit selling the fresh cod that was a staple of my diet (but thanks for all the fish you provided before that happened).
The reason Wal-Mart and Tom Thumb just got more of my business, even though I have to drive further to get to either of them, is because you (or at least your interim CEO) think that my presence “creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience that you strive to create.”
That was the explanation given when you “respectfully” asked your customers not to bring guns into your stores, “even in communities where it is permitted by law.” And even though I’m a former police officer who has been through training and then been vetted and trained again as concealed handgun license holder. And even though by being armed, I might have someday prevented a psychotic criminal from turning your store into a slaughterhouse.
There is nothing respectful about asking me to give up my means of defending my life and that of others in order to shop at your store. That request shows no respect for my constitutional rights, my judgment and my ability to decide for myself whether to legally carry there.
I guess you would be shocked to know that I’ve been inside your facility dozens, maybe hundreds of times, carrying a loaded handgun on my person, and never once has that gun hurt or threatened anyone or put your family-friendly shopping and work experience at risk. Personally, I think it’s pretty family-unfriendly to want children to have to go into yet another fish-in-a-barrel zone, which is exactly what gun bans create since the bad guys can count on their victims not being equipped to fight back. Or hadn’t you noticed that a huge proportion of mass murders take place in schools and other “gun free” locations?
Some have suggested that since you’ve apparently decided not to legally enforce your desire to keep guns out, which you easily could do in Texas by posting a 30.06 sign, I should just go about my business as usual, taking my gun into the store as I always have. “What’s the big deal?” they ask. “They aren’t making it illegal, so you’re in no danger of getting arrested if you do it.”
Well, here’s the thing: Even though you don’t respect my rights, I do respect yours. I believe any owner of a home or business or other property should have the absolute right to make the rules about who and what can come onto his/her property. I’m not advocating a law that would force you to allow me to carry my gun in your store. I’m just giving you notice that I intend to exercise my right to shop (or not shop) wherever I please, and to encourage others to do the same.
In fact, if you stood up for your beliefs and posted the sign (the legal one, not the stupid “gun buster” sign with the red slash through the picture that has no lawful effect at all), I would have a lot more respect for you. I still wouldn’t shop there, but I wouldn’t consider you quite as cowardly. An outright ban is more palatable to me than a polite “request” that I voluntarily disarm. Oh, it’s a good tactic, probably suggested by a lawyer: if it’s voluntary, nobody can come back and blame (i.e., sue) you if a madman (who impolitely disregards your request) comes in and starts shooting and people are killed because they can’t defend themselves.
I guess the part that really stuck in my mind was the statement by some retail consultant who said the new policy was expected to be just fine with Target’s core customers and “anybody who’s offended is probably not a Target customer to begin with.” I’ve spent thousands of dollars in Target stores during the Christmas season alone, and I certainly thought I was the kind of customer Target was, well, targeting. (By the way, did anyone else notice the irony of the gun ban in light of the company’s logo?)
That same consultant showed just how little he knows about Texans when he said, “I really doubt that very many people carry guns in Target stores.” I guess he thinks all CHL holders are big, brawny rough-looking young men with very red necks. I think he would be surprised to find that I am by no means the only 50something year old 120-pound woman who drives a Cadillac, who’s packing in the frozen food aisle.
So long, Target. Up until now, it was a nice – if sometimes annoying – relationship (and what long term relationship doesn’t have its annoyances?) but I guess that old seven-year-itch reared its head and inspired you to bring it to an unhappy end. I won’t lie; I’ll miss you a little, but we are obviously not meant for each other. See you around. I’m sure your competitors will be happy to be getting more of my money.