The Importance of Buying Stuff

So let’s talk commerce as resistance.

Nordstrom, famous rocks and clothes store, has dropped the brand of Ivanka Trump, and come under fire from President Trump for it. To the point where Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway gave Ivanka a free commercial from the White House briefing room, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer described the chain’s act as an attack on the President’s daughter.

The Washington Post reports that Nordstrom’s value has increased despite the President’s tweets, although we can’t know how long that will hold, and showcases a number of people who now regard shopping at Nordstrom as a way to boycott Trump brands and stick it to the new regime. It’s probably pretty nice to be able to vote with your dollars in a way that annoys the President, and get a $200 jacket in the bargain. Of course, Nordstrom re-issued a statement they’d released reporting that they were dropping Ivanka’s line because of low sales, rather than in protest of the conflicts of interest represented by working for or carrying the merchandise of the Trump brand. Of course, wink wink, nodnod, we understand, I’ll take three $75 knits please. It’s protest and capitalism and new clothes all at the same time, especially in a time when other brands like Under Armour are coming out in favour of the White House.

There’s an argument to be made that instead of pitching money at companies to reward them for business decisions that have ancillary effects, or in buying a rock for $85 in an act that hopefully gives other companies the courage to stand up and also make business decisions, we should donate money directly to struggles. There are certainly no shortage to choose from. There’s just a few places where we could put money instead of in the pockets of Nordstrom shareholders:

But that’s old hat. We all know that we should donate money, but charitable receipts won’t keep my feet warm like a $328 pair of boots. I get it. I’m not even mad. That’s capitalism, which is the world we live in. We want value for our money, and sometimes it’s hard to get a grip on the value of donations. It’s a challenge for charities and nonprofits the world over. Money spent at Nordstroms or the other chains that have started removing the Trump line goes to those chains’ already full coffers.

But there’s another way to buy stuff and protest.

Buy art. Buy crafts and clothes and art from marginalized creators. Books, videogames, paintings, albums, blankets, fashion, you can find it, and you can find it being made by women, queer and trans folx, Muslims, indigenous or poc creators, and intersections of all of the above. If we are genuinely interested in resistance, we must take an interest in helping people survive resisting. Buying the products of creators in at-risk intersections gets us cool things, but also provides security and support to creators we care about. Thanks to the new regime, they’ll need that support more than ever, and you can’t pay your rent in retweets. Buy albums, hit up Etsy stores, back Patreons, sub to streamers, buy merch, even head to local art shows and craft fairs.

We can use our money to do more than protest. We can protest and help people in jeopardy flourish. We can recognize them as part of our community, and become part of theirs.

I can’t think of a much better deal than that.

Jim Tigwell

A survivor of two philosophy degrees, Jim Tigwell spends his days solving interesting problems in software. By night he can be found at poetry slams and whatever art opening has the strangest cheese selection. Host of the biweekly Concept Crucible podcast and occasional blogger, Jim is also a juggler, musician, magician, and maker of digital things. You can find his music and videos at Woot Suit Riot, a channel that doubles as a home for wayward and timid creators. Observe his antics there, or heckle directly on Twitter @ConceptCrucible. If the software and internet game doesn’t pan out, he’s determined to be a great Canadian vampire hunter.

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