bad for business

No Gilt-Free Shopping When You’re In Bed With Target: Spenders Revolt Against Designer Sale Site

Is everything Target touches turning to garbage? Already facing the wrath of America’s gays, the retailer’s disease is spreading to other companies teaming up with it. Just this week we saw protesters outside Andre Balzas’ Standard Hotel in New York City, which was hosting Target’s “kaleidoscope” fall fashion preview, furious over the corporate dollars flowing to Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Now they’re sinking their fangs into the designer sale site Gilt.

Gilt Group, which runs “members-only” (i.e. enter your email address to sign up) sales that help designers unload inventory, offered a pop-up Target sale that promises “early and exclusive sneak-peek access to three exciting new Target collaborations with the likes of Tucker, Mulberry and John Derian.” It also invited the wrath of those furious with Target to unload on its Facebook page.

These are just some of the comments posted in the last couple hours:

Responded Gilt chief Susan Lyne: “Some of you have noted that Gilt benefits from the efforts and talent of the LGBT community — and you are absolutely right. We consider ourselves lucky to work in an industry that flourishes precisely because it embraces diversity and change. As a company and a community we are better, more creative, more successful because of the contributions of our LGBT colleagues. The sale we are doing with Target today is the result of many months of work on the part of Gilt employees and Target team members far removed from decisions about corporate political contributions. I am grateful to both groups for the care and effort they put into bringing something special to our respective customers. Whether you visit the sale today or not, please know that we will continue to celebrate the contributions of our LGBT employees and vendor partners and to support their events wherever we can. As always, thank you for engaging with us, today and every day.”

Huh. Doesn’t that sound exactly like Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel’s own initial remarks after the furor began over the company’s MN Forward donation? Yes, yes it does. Last month, Steinhafel thought this would ease the criticism: “In the past week I’ve heard from some of you, including our GLBT team members, regarding your concerns with Target’s recent contributions to MN Forward, an independent expenditure committee that is supported by a broad coalition of large and small businesses throughout the state, including the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. As you know, Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth. MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state’s job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda. In the context of this contribution, some of you have raised questions regarding our commitment to diversity, and more specifically, the GLBT community. Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.”

So that should totally take care of things, Gilt.

[Above clip: Behind-the-scenes at Gilt’s Target product shoot]