Since I live not too far from the Town and Country Whole Foods, I thought I would stroll over and take a look at the Tea Party “buycott” scheduled for that location. When I reached the store at a little after 6:00 p.m., there was already a sizeable crowd. Staff seemed overwhelmed by the numbers — this particular store is not notable for the crowds that it attracts — it opened last year just as the economy tanked and many of the stores in the shopping center it co-anchors with a Target store have remained empty.  They probably welcomed this event as a ray of hope.

The shop-in was a who’s who of tea party notables.  Apart from the usual suspects, the greeter at the entry door when I arrived was Gina Loudon, wife of former State Senator, John Loudon and herself a failed candidate for his seat in the 7th district.  Mrs. Loudon sweetly asked me if I were there for the buycott, ready to hand me one of the store’s collections of coupons if I said yes (these coupons which are almost always freely available in the store were being treated as if they were a special door-prize for teapartiers).  

If, as Dana Loesch claims, the regional manager turned up for the event, he was keeping himself out of sight. Staff that I spoke to were unaware of any untoward managerial presence, but who knows. According to TV reportage on the event, the Whole Foods management released a statement distancing themselves from the buycotts and reiterating that the store takes no stand on the issue of health care reform (no link currently available).  

Although there were police cars stationed at the entrance of the shopping mall and a couple stationed elsewhere in the sizeable parking lot, the event was innocuous by tea party standards.  The only hint of the usual teapartier hissy fits was the tone adopted by some of the folks being interviewed by TV reporters. I particularly noticed a slightly hysterical, middle-aged woman in an oversize T-shirt emblazoned some with some stridently “patriotic” image who was saying something about doing her duty as an American.  Her voice had the tensely quavering, querulous yet sanctimonious quality that I associate with the elderly ladies from my childhood who used to come out and shake their fists at us when we children dared step on their lawns.  

Will the buycott movement prove to be an effective counter-weight to the boycotters?    I am not sure that the sustained effort that would be required is the goal of the organizers — I think it more likely that the TV reporters were the folks they  wanted to impress, a possibility strengthened by Loesch’s apres-buycott interview with Fox’s Greta Van Susteren (nice, isn’t it that the fringers have their own TV station to cover these local events?):

So there you have it.  The teapartiers staged a love-in for Whole Foods’ John Mackey for the benefit of the television news media.  People came from all over and a good time was had by all.

A gentleman I spoke with who, like several others, I suspect, was there out of curiosity rather than a desire to support the teapartiers, made what struck me as an especially apt observation.  His impression, loosely paraphrased, was that the people who came out for this event are those sad souls who fear being left behind by a changing world — while failing utterly to comprehend that their current actions will insure just that outcome.

CORRECTION:  According to another casual attendee, the regional manager was there althugh he claimed that had come “from Chicago for a meeting already scheduled for that day that just happened to coincide with this event. He said there were no special deals made available to event supporters and that he would ‘ … welcome groups with opposing views to shop at his store anytime.'”

See also Boycott vs. Buycott: The Meta Issues