Why Did Old Navy Only Sell Their Pride T-Shirts In 26 Of 1,035 Stores?

No, it’s not that Old Navy’s pride shirts have sold out of their other 1,009 stores. It’s that Old Navy only offered the shirts in 26 stores to begin with. That’s 26 stores in about 16 different states, meaning kids in Kentucky, Tennessee and other places that need them never even had a chance to see or order them online. But was Old Navy’s selective marketing a way to avoid an anti-gay boycott or merely cash in on queer-friendly cities? Neither actually.

We’re not ragging on Old Navy; we think it’s cool that they have Pride shirts to begin with and even cooler that they’re donating 10 percent of their profits on the It Gets Better campaign. Old Navy has never sold clothing specifically marketed towards LGBT causes. And like all companies testing out a new product, they probably decided do a limited run of shirts in select markets to see how well they’d sell instead of putting shirts in all 50 states and ending up with a bunch leftover.

Yes, the kids in more rural places won’t see them. But there’s strong indication that if the shirts do well they’ll do a wider release next year. They’ve just announced their decision to release Pride shirts in other US cities. Consider Old Navy’s response when someone complained about this issue on their “Love Proudly” Facebook page:

While we understand your frustration at the limited numbers of stores that will carry this line of shirts, please know that this is a step in the right direction. With enough positive feedback, it’s possible that we will continue this tradition next year and have the product available in even more locations. Feel free to spread the word and have your friends send their positive requests to expand the availability!

We should take a few seconds to contact Old Navy—at [email protected] or 1-800-OLD-NAVY (1-800-653-6289)—and express our appreciation. There’s also two petitions to encourage the store to put the shirts in more states.

Mel Green from Bent Alaska supports Old Navy’s effort and hopes it helped them and IGB rake in the cash, but he has a different idea on what would-be shirt buyers should do with their money instead:

I’ll save the money I would spend in shipping to make a direct donation to the It Gets Better Project. And I’ll also do what I would do with or without an Old Navy Pride tee: I’ll go to Alaska PrideFest… and I’ll buy my Pride 2011 t-shirt from the good folks… who work so hard to organize Anchorage’s Pride celebration every year.

He’s absolutely right that we need to support queer-supportive merchants in our town, but the nationwide exposure that Old Navy could provide is worth supporting too.