Did Davis Ace's Mitt Romney Letter Affect Your Shopping Habits?

Let us know in the comments below.

The owner of Davis Ace Hardware sent a letter to her employees before the presidential election in November encouraging them to vote for Mitt Romney. It got a lot of attention across most local publications, including Daviswiki, with commenters questioning the letter's appropriateness. It got picked up by the Huffington Post as well, where it gathered more than 2,000 comments. 

Much of the discussion around the issue had to do with whether people would boycott the store as a result of the letter.

We recently received an email from a Davis resident who said he didn't make active plans to boycott, but says he has found himself avoiding the store as a result of the letter. He wonders if he's alone in this. 

Have you altered your purchasing habits, or not? Let us know below. Here's his letter: 

I hesitated to comment (on the original story) because I wanted to give the issue time to see how I felt. The letter offended me, but I wanted to see if that offense would translate into action.

It's now almost the end of January, and I can see that for me it has affected my shopping pattern.  I was a loyal customer of Davis Ace, always choosing it over big box rivals whenever possible.  I tried to steer clear of Target, especially the Davis Target.  I sometimes drove to Woodland to avoid the Davis Target (I live in N. Davis, so for me distances were similar).

Since the news of "The Letter" I find myself avoiding Davis Ace most of the time. I've only gone twice or 3 times since the election, and each time it was for a specific product that I knew they had instead of a general shopping stop.  The Letter freed me (in my mind) to shop Davis Target, and I guess I don't care whether Davis Ace survives anymore or not.  I understand it would be a blow to Downtown, and it would be a blow to all the nice folks who work there. 

And yet I can't get "The Letter" out of my mind, and the reprehensible conduct and political views that put it into the hands of the Davis Ace employees.

Jessica Wissner January 31, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Since hearing about this, I am going to avoid shopping there anymore. Not because I hate Mitt Romney per se, but because as an "employee" I can't stand the idea of being pressured into a viewpoint. There are plenty of other great places, such as 3 PALMS to get cheap plants.
Hamish January 31, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Personally, I think Ms. Anderson was being willfully ignorant to write the letter, and she should have the spunk to actually apologize for abusing her power (and for pretending this is an issue about free speech). Bob Dunning should also grow a pair and admit that this was deeply inappropriate for an employer to pen such a letter. That said, her inane letter won't influence my shopping habits at all because I don't think we should politicize where we buy our tools, plants and home furnishings. To do so would be to take a page from Mr. Anderson's twisted playbook and bring ugly partisan politics into a place where it ought not be. And for those who think that I or anyone else would feel differently if an Obama supporter wrote the same letter to their employees, they're just plain wrong - the political leaning doesn't matter a bit - such behavior is repugnant (and un-American) wherever it comes from!
Cecelia January 31, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Hamish - "Only republicans would be so blindly partisan". That's hilarious coming from you!
Frank January 31, 2013 at 06:15 PM
I'm with yiou Cecelia. When does it become abuse of power when an owner of a business shares information about the impact of future events on the company? In most cases, employers are applauded for letting their employess know what the challenges are going to be. Apparently if someone doesn't toe the party line in Davis, its abuse. I will always shop there and other local shops in Davis.
Hamish January 31, 2013 at 06:22 PM
The day the Democrats vote against a major issue which was at one time their own policy proposal, then and only then, you'll be absolutely correct about them stooping to the same level. This issue isn't about being partisan or not, nor is it about free speech. It's about abusing power as an employer and bringing politics into a sphere where it's just not appropriate. I'm sorry that's so hard to see for so many ...
LMV January 31, 2013 at 06:34 PM
I agree with Hamish. This letter was a total abuse of the power a boss has over her/his employees. I wonder what her reaction would have been to a rebuttal letter from one of those employees. That said, I have continued to stop at Davis Lumber (and Hibberts, Target, and Home Depot) for items I need rather than shop at Walmart.
Hamish January 31, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Good question Frank (hopefully that wasn't rhetorical). Providing information is one thing, attempting to directly influence how people vote, and doing so in writing to employees is quite another. Ms. Anderson is absolutely free to believe what she wants, to speak openly about her beliefs, and to inform (or even misinform) her employees as she sees fit, but to actively attempt to influence the votes of her employees is to take advantage of that power relationship. Just imagine if one of her employees wrote her the opposite and tried to convince her of the opposite - what would their continued employment prospects be? There's your evidence of why the asymmetry matters and why her actions were abusive. Legal yes, protected speech yes, but also abusive and offensive, absolutely.
Roberto January 31, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Hamish, I think you drank the cool-aid.
Cecelia January 31, 2013 at 07:15 PM
So, unions "influencing the vote" of their members (who are members not by choice, by the way), is fine? Oh, of course it is, this is DAVIS!
Dom January 31, 2013 at 07:20 PM
I didn't know about this until just know. I've been a loyal Ace customer for several years but that is know done. Hello Hibbert and/or amazon.com you now have a new customer. They can regain me as a customer if they do the following. 1) Post a public apology in the front of all Ace's in Davis that is in large font (at least 4" tall) 2) Promise to never do this again on any political issue ever 3) Write a letter to all employees apologizing for the out of line previous action of giving them a political letter
Cfranc January 31, 2013 at 07:26 PM
I was a frequent customer before the letter, and I haven't shopped there since. The issue for me is not free speech. If Ms. Anderson had written a well reasoned opinion article for the local paper, expressing views I disagree with, that would not have influenced my shopping habits. In fact, I may have even had some sympathy for her situation, if she could provide specific examples of how providing "affordable" health care to full-time employees would affect her business's bottom line -- not just abstractions repeated from the mailer the Romney campaign sent to business owners. Is the health care she currently offers considered unaffordable under the act? If so, why? It seems that, all over the country, no one on either side wants to discuss the practical details of this new law objectively, which has been extremely frustrating. Anyway, the reason I'm not shopping at Ace is that I believe she has created a hostile work environment by requiring employees to listen to and read repeated rhetoric that was sent to her by right-wing organizations, apparently over the course of years. I agree that this is an abuse of power. That's my opinion, which I'm also free to have.
Cfranc January 31, 2013 at 07:31 PM
For those with concerns about union influence, please provide examples of local union shops where the employees feel that the union is creating a hostile work environment, because I'd like to avoid shopping at those businesses as well.
Lisa Johnson January 31, 2013 at 08:01 PM
It won't make any difference to me. I did not like what I saw as a coercive attempt to influence employees votes by an employer but I still will support a local business because that is important to me.
Lisa Johnson January 31, 2013 at 08:13 PM
I think employers "encouraging" voters to vote the way they approve of is different than unions "'encouraging" voters to vote the way they approve of. Unions can't fire or layoff workers like their employers can. When an employer sends a letter threatening lay offs if employees vote a certain way it is far more coercive. A letter simply advising employees that they feel a candidates policy might be bad for business is bad enough but to say that employees hours might be cut or lay offs might happen is a bit over the top.
Ginger January 31, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Hm. Her letter was as inappropriate as "if she sexually harassed an employee even if they were 'consenting adults.'?" Like...oh, I dunno...maybe the President having sex with an impressionable, young intern? Kind of like that? Because if I recall, people in Davis were overall pretty supportive of Clinton during that episode.
DavisResident January 31, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Haven't set foot in either of the Ace stores since the news of the letter. Probably spent $1000s in their store over the years. Won't be going back. Drive all the way out to Home Depot or Lowes instead.
Lori Prizmich February 01, 2013 at 12:11 AM
People have a right to their opinions, even in Davis. Keep an open mind....
Lori Prizmich February 01, 2013 at 12:17 AM
So now we are only shopping at businesses that share our point of view? That gives new meaning to the idea that Davis allows diversity. Open minded? I call it narrow-minded.
Jen S February 01, 2013 at 02:56 AM
Wow. Reading the comments from those of you who claim to be shopping there "even more" because you are anti-union or agree with Ms Anderson's right wing political preference makes me want to shop there even less. This is NOT a free speech issue. Ms Anderson could have written a letter to the editor, but instead she choose to try and intimidate those who depend on her for a paycheck, which is shameful, no matter what the agenda. And poor business judgement, apparently. To answer the original question, I too did not make a conscious decision to boycott Davis Ace, mainly because of the many good people who work there, and the fact that I had been a regular customer and generally liked the store. However, I do find myself now choosing to shop at Hibbert, Redwood Barn, PetCo, and Target for most of the items I used to purchase from Ace. Its a shame, but I find I am having a visceral aversion to walking into her store.
Elle Newman February 01, 2013 at 03:25 PM
It's a false analogy because the relationships are not equivalent. The difference is that union members aren't employees of their union, so the power relationship every employer has over their employees doesn't exist. Your union can't fire you but your boss can.
Elle Newman February 01, 2013 at 04:03 PM
I too am no longer going to shop at DL. Used to spend about $250 a month there. But with Western Feed opening nearby I can now get everything I need between them and Hibberts. As one commenter pointed out, a letter to the editor would have been an entirely appropriate venue for Ms Anderson to express herself. But this well orchestrated attempt by conservative powers to intimidate employees, notably the most vulnerable employees, is utterly transparent and repugnant and I for one, can not support it.
ACB February 01, 2013 at 04:51 PM
We moved to Davis in August. We had purchased a house and it needed a lot of work. At first we shopped exclusively at Davis Ace. One day I was getting into my car with tons of stuff and I overheard three adults talking about the letter. I went home and researched it and was pretty shocked to find out it was true. I have not spent a penny there since, and as I get to know my new community, I share the news with others so they can also switch to a different store.
Hamish February 01, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Re: your Clinton comments, I absolutely agree with you that this is where my suggestion leads, but a great number of people of all persuasions found his behavior to be deeply unacceptable, inappropriate, and yes, offensive. Whether he should have been impeached for sexual harassment or for what he was actually impeached for (obstruction of justice and perjury) is a separate issue. A lot of people, myself included, felt at the time that - though Clinton's behavior was repugnant and abusive - this scandal was just a "gotcha" witch hunt in an attempt to bring down the minority party's president, and not a legitimate reason to do so. The Senate apparently agreed, case closed, manufactured scandal, over. No one is saying that Ms. Anderson should lose he job or business or anything of the sort. She and Clinton both abused their power, however ... and that's all that's being said here (for the most part).
Roberto February 01, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Wow ACB , with a bias and prejudice opinion like that you may feel better by leaving the City of All things Right and Relevant, and moving back to Woodland. You're obviously not that into free speech, diversity and a variety of viewpoints. You need to repeat The Davis City motto three times. That'll help you.
Cecelia February 01, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Totally agree with you, Lori. Really makes me sad.
Judy February 02, 2013 at 02:40 AM
That was not free speech, that was an attempt at coercion: I am your boss, vote for Romney, if Romney doesn't win you might lose your job.
Cecelia February 02, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Judy, Don't most people operate on the assumption that your boss won't have any idea who you voted for? I thought most of the public realized that voting is private.
Judy February 02, 2013 at 03:01 AM
Note that it was Romney himself who encouraged business owners to write such letters to their employees. The ugly Citizen's United ruling raising it's ugly head again: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2012/10/18/romney_s_nfib_call_gop_hopeful_tells_employers_to_tell_employees_who_to.html Politics are not pretty, but the Romney crowd takes unethical, unprincipled behavior into whole new areas. They're intimately involved with "multi level marketing" aka pyramid scam companies...Stanford Financial ties definately via his son's investment co, Nu Skin a major campaign donor, MelaLuca guy was high up in his campaign staff, etc. FTC finally taking action on one of these MLM scams this week: Fortune Hitech Marketing. Look up the story online. They are all alike, the MLMs, we will be hearing more about them as time goes on. We are so lucky as a country that his campaign failed. The reason we didn't hear more about Bain? It wouldn't bear close examination...just like his taxes.
Cecelia February 02, 2013 at 03:09 AM
Elle, When it comes to voting, neither a union nor an employer has any real power over an employee's vote (thank goodness!). Unions make as many or more threats to employees about cutting benefits if so-and-so gets in... I really don't find any of it appropriate, but let's face it, they're going to try. Since voting is private - neither unions nor employers can really do anything about who you vote for, so the way I see it the attempt to coerce a vote is equally inappropriate.
Jane Schafer-Kramer February 02, 2013 at 03:55 PM
I respect the right for anyone to voice their political views, but such a letter from someone in power to their subordinates amounts to intimidation and bullying. I feel sympathy for the employees of Ace and I hope that they are not subjected to this intimidation on a regular basis. To answer the question, I don't avoid shopping at Ace, but I would support and encourage their employees to consider unionizing.


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