Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
An odd trend is emerging. Retailers are refusing to offer goods and services to those whose morals or character are judged and found wanting. As a fond admirer of the American open market, I find this line of thinking peculiar and dangerous. The practice of customer discrimination is mortal sin in the church doctrine of Our Lady of Commerce and Holy Consumption. Retailers will burn in the fires of bankruptcy for their indiscretions.
In two seemingly unrelated incidences, consumers were turned away because of information provided prior to sale. One proprietor has experienced a positive outcome, the other a negative outpouring.
No Sale to Lesbians
In New Jersey, a dress shop refused to sell a wedding gown to a lesbian because in the words used in a presale information sheet. According to reports, the term ‘groom’ was crossed out and the word ‘partner’ was penciled in. I guess this was taken as an affront to the shop’s mission of providing wedding attire for ‘difference sex’ couples. The offer to provide goods for purchase was removed from the table in what has been reported as a telephone melee.
The Here Comes the Bride Salon’s facebook page has since been barraged with negative comments and ratings of one star on Yelp. A Boycott facebook page has been established as well.
No Sale to Bullies
A Philadelphia photographer refused service after researching her high school aged clients’ facebook accounts. The students’ comments were deemed “ugly”, without redemption and insufficient for good photography. McKen canceled the scheduled sessions. Ms. McKen also took screen shots and sent them to the parents, explaining her actions.
Jen McKen Photography’s facebook page is filled with positive comments and accolades.
No Sale? NO WAY!
From retail management and poverty avoidance perspectives, both retailers are ignorant and poor business people. While evangelicals may applaud the refusal to support same sex marriage, it is a principled business practice that leads to the sin of poverty. For small business owners, consider that large corporations do not review the morality of their clients. Corporations that support favored GOP candidates sell goods and services to everyone. Businesses grow when they separate the church from money. It isn’t a sin to judge others, but it is a sin to be poor.
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Admiration or kind feelings about a client cannot be deposited in the bank. The primary goal of any for profit business venture is to maximize wealth, not pass moral judgment. For these businesses, markets and potential has been narrowed. While McKen has received a lot of personal satisfaction and facebook likes, her market base just shrunk. As a potential patron, wouldn’t one be suspicious of someone that publically declares that she investigates clients and judges their actions? Would she refuse exclusive access to a despised public figure? Why would one purchase any good or service from someone that proclaims a pressing need to evaluate a client’s moral standing with unrevealed criteria? How would this woman feel about taking pictures of someone that was not beautiful on the inside and out? Would she refuse a burn victim? Someone with acne scars?
Here Comes the Bride has some possibly costly legal battles ahead due to their poor business practice. In addition to diminishing the market base, a discrimination suit could be filed.
Like many other states, including California, New York, Illinois, and Colorado, New Jersey bars sexual orientation discrimination in places of public accommodation.
Most statutes define public accommodations as places that are open to the public, such as a business, hotel, entertainment venue, restaurant, and doctor’s office.
The Bigger Picture – Is Customer Discrimination Ever a Good Thing?
While the kneejerk reaction is to proclaim that this refusal of service is folly, an opportunity emerges for those that will sell anything to anybody, legally of course. These same businesses then have the opportunity to grow wealth and begin influencing elections.
These are hard times for retailers. Customers are very capable of judging your business, just as you judge their character as a customer. Some customers might find you bereft of character and go someplace else that holds a lower more consumer friendly standard. The deficit in customer base could be overcome with lower pricing to “make it up in volume”.
I personally predict a really big inventory reduction closeout sale at a bridal store in New Jersey. I wonder if they will sell any dresses?