Middle Tennessee’s GLBT community united to show their economic power in the face of discrimination during the recent “Saves Your Receipt(s)” campaign with organizers saying the results show “strong economic muscle.”

More than 255 receipts were turned in during the week of June 10, to June 17, totaling $15,132.99. Projected over a year, the total comes to $786,879.08. The totals were announced at the June 26, meeting of the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLBTCC).

“That is an incredible response,” said Christopher Sanders, president of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP). “If anyone in the business community has doubts about the economic muscle of our community, these figures should put them to rest. The community united to show support for Out & About Newspaper and demonstrate the GLBT community's economic impact.”

An online poll of Out & About Newspaper readers shows that of the more than 325 respondents, 81 percent (or 263) said they would not continue to shop at Kroger if they do not allow O&AN back in their stores.

Sanders said the impact of the campaign was even more significant on the bottom line of the two stores and pointed out that since the campaign only ran one week many people simple stopped shopping at Kroger and Harris Teeter or did not do grocery shopping at all during that week.

“We know the impact is far greater,” he said. “We’ve heard from many who avoided shopping at those stores but didn’t send in receipts. Many people heard about the campaign after it ended and still decided to make different shopping choices.”

John Wade, president of the NGLBTCC, said the GLBT community had rallied around the issue and felt passionately about the discrimination.

“We know that Kroger and Harris Teeter have received hundreds of unscripted emails telling them how passionately the community feels about discrimination,” Wade said. “And in addition to that, many people drove well out of their way to shop at Publix, Target, H.G. Hill, Turnip Truck, Food Lion, Wild Oats and other stores.”

The campaign was organized by TEP and the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce in response to Kroger and Harris Teeter banning Out & About Newspaper from their free publication racks. DistribuTech, the contractor that oversees the free publication racks for both stores, pulled the newspaper from 34 Kroger stores and three Harris Teeter stores on May 31, despite having a signed contract. More than 3,500 copies of the May issue of O&AN were distributed in those stores since May 9.

TEP and NGLBTCC were joined by coalition partners the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, Nashville Pride, PFLAG Nashville and the Human Rights Campaign in the effort.

“We could not have had a successful campaign without the receipt drop-off points including OutLoud!, Tribe, First Unitarian Universalist Church, Lucky's Garage and Blue Gene's,” Sanders said. “Our community showed the kind of unity that will move us forward.”

Sanders and Wade both urged the community to continue contacting Kroger and Harris Teeter to let them know the campaign results and know that in a competitive grocery market, they should want business from the GLBT community.

“The Nashville GLBT Chamber and TEP, along with our coalition partners, will continue to work with national organizations to find a solution that we hope will restore Out & About Newspaper to the shelves of these two chains,” Wade added. “So far, there has been no written response from Harris Teeter. We ask that the community please continue to press them for answers.”

To voice your concern, visit www.harristeeter.com/default.aspx?pageId=25 for Harris Teeter and for Kroger visit www.kroger.com/customercomments.htm.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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