Occupy Movement Sparks Brand Boycotts

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The long winter of discontent for the discontented is setting in, historically early in the Northeast. Just as the Occupy movement is claiming some victories (Bank of America rolling back its $5 monthly fee in response to Occupy and social media outcry), some of its most important outdoor encampments are facing winter weather.

Now, a second wave of activism tangential to the global protests sparked by Occupy Wall Street is popping up. As supporters move to raise Made-in-the-USA money to help the movement through the winter, others are boycotting businesses perceived to show sympathy — or not.[more]

Despite being a favorite of many on the left, a Whole Foods Market store in Oakland, CA, yesterday came under attack (as seen above) following a false rumor that any employees who left to attend the Occupy Oakland demonstrations would be terminated. Protesters also attacked a Bank of America branch.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the isle (of spite), right wing blogger Ed Morrissey, enraged that an Okland, California outpost of Men’s Warehouse closed for one day in solidarity with the local Occupy movement, declared a boycott. Morrissey wrote:

“Over the years, I’ve spent quite a bit of money at Mens Wearhouse, in the low four figures. They generally have a good selection of clothing at pretty good prices, and in the Twin Cities have conveniently-located stores.  Overall I’ve been a pretty satisfied customer. After this week, though, they won’t see a dime from me, thanks to their support of the anti-free market mobs in Oakland that ravaged the city over the last couple of weeks.”

Morrissey’s rant goes on to declare that “Mens Wearhouse had a choice to stand with the market that made them a success and with their fellow businessmen in the community.” Of course, all consumers have the right to shop where they like, but if Morrissey had done his homework he would have known that Men’s Warehouse founder and CEO, and face of the brand, George Zimmer, is a long-time financial supporter of Democrats and progressive causes (unlike another outfitter favored by the protesting masses).

According to FEC filings, in just the last few years  Zimmer has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Who’s Who of Dems: Barack Obama, Al Franken, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton. So, it seems, the joke is on Morrissey, who has been supporting Zimmer’s “leftist” agenda all along.

As the saying goes, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” As numerous brands rush to cash in on “Occufashion,” the movement itself is struggling with decisions about spending much of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it has raised.

One purchase the Occupy movement will not be making as the race to cash in on the grassroots movement heats up? The $150,000 requested by the cybersquatters who have been sitting on the Occupy.com domain. It turns out, the corporation-unfriendly movement has some of the same problems as the average cooperation.

And as we head into America’s winter of discontent (and discount tent), the Fire Dog Lake news and activism website, reached out to its members and raised $50,000 for its #OccupySupply initiative to provide winter gear for those currently occupying the streets of New York’s financial district and elsewhere. But, as everything is politicized, FDL announced that these funds would be used “to start a supply chain of union-manufactured goods.” While $50,000 would buy a lot more imported cheaper-labor “stuff,” the group is making a point by spending it on “American made hats, scarves, blankets, jackets, base layer underwear and extreme weather socks.”

The fundraising comes as polling shows an increase in national sympathy for the Occupy movement. A new survey found that 36 percent of Americans now “agree with the overall positions of Occupy Wall Street,” up from 27 percent a month ago.”

There is even a website, We Stand With The 99 Percent, where “the 1%” can show support for the 99%.” Maybe the proverbial tipping point came when author and corporate conference keynoter Malcolm Gladwell condemned Wall Street’s behavior as “scandalous.”

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