Breaking News Emails
With the most recent presidential campaign behind us, days, moments and sound bites from the raucous election may seem like a blur.
But for Shannon Coulter, the organizer of the "Grab Your Wallet" movement, October 7, 2016 — the day an old tape was released of then-candidate Donald Trump bragging about how he could use his star status to "grab" women "by the pussy," is a date she can't forget.
"Something definitely did change for me with the release of the Trump tapes, and I think it was something much more fundamental than traditional partisan politics. It goes to basic human decency for one another," Coulter told NBC News.
So Coulter, a marketing specialist, launched a campaign to encourage consumers to boycott everything Trump. The ban runs the gamut from Trump-branded properties to stores that stock Ivanka Trump fashion lines, to companies whose CEOs supported or raised funds for Trump, and brands that advertise on the Celebrity Apprentice.
For Coulter, becoming a national figure — especially one heading up a politically tinged campaign in a country divided — comes with some ugly moments.
"There are some negative things that go along with being a more public figure, like unwanted threats or harassment," she said. "Along the way, I had to really ask myself whether the increasing profile was something I was willing to take on — and the answer was a resounding yes."
Coulter announced the boycott with Sue Atencio, a grandmother she hadn't met but found was thinking along the same lines as she was. This month, they're approaching their 200th day of the boycott.
On October 11, 2016, a short list of companies to boycott was announced on Twitter and began to spread. Coulter added the #GrabYourWallet hashtag a few days later, and a movement was born.
A few months after launching, Grab Your Wallet has already dropped 23 companies from its boycott list, Coulter said. She has also heard from brands involved with this past season of "The Celebrity Apprentice," which aired on NBC and credited President Trump as one executive producer. (MGM owns the show.)
"That includes Tyra Beauty, See's Candy, Carnival Cruise, Honest Company, many of which have been removed from the list at this point because they've gone on the record and said publicly we're not going to sponsor a future season for the show, should one be announced," Coulter said.
Measuring the Results
On their busiest traffic days, Coulter said the Grab Your Wallet website has recorded as many as 30,000 unique visitors per hour.
Managing the website and fielding calls and correspondence around the movement has turned into an additional full-time job, on top of the one she already has.
"It's significant. Luckily, I am a night owl, so a lot of it happens after hours," Coulter said. She added that she's having discussions about possibly turning Grab Your Wallet into a non-profit "that would be aimed at helping people continue to flex their consumer power in the direction of a more respectful and inclusive society."
For every four boycotts, one will get national media coverage and tend to reap more success, Brayden King, a sociologist and management professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management told NBC News.
But Grab Your Wallet isn't a typical boycott. With the reason behind the boycott now fully settled into his seat in the Oval Office, and more than four dozen companies on the list, it may, at times, seem unclear who the real target really is.
"Single target boycotts are the most successful," King said. "Rather than target every company that has those problems, [the most successful boycotts, historically] will go after a single high-profile company hoping they can maximize media attention by doing it this way."
Coulter said the community has recently honed in on the idea of having a top targets list, making their activism even more effective. Macy's, the largest retailer on the list, has the dubious honor of sitting in the top spot since it sells Ivanka Trump products.
For every one person who calls or emails a company on the Grab Your Wallet list, there are three more people who simply aren't doing business with that company, Coulter said.
Whether Grab Your Wallet had something to do with it or people simply weren't into Ivanka Trump's latest wares, Nordstrom — now infamously — dropped the first daughter's spring season collection in February, citing low sales.
That didn't sit well with President Trump, who lashed out on Twitter, claiming his daughter had been treated unfairly.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, herself had to be "counseled" following a television interview where she plugged Ivanka Trump's products.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you. I hate shopping, and I’m gonna go get some on myself today," Conway said in February, speaking from the White House briefing room.
"That is one of the most interesting things about this current political climate. Both sides of the aisle are extremely active and ideologically polarized. Because of that, any boycott targeting a company because of Trump is likely to attract the ire of the other side," King said.
There was an unexpected bonus for Nordstrom. After the retailer severed ties with Trump, its shares jumped 7 percent in early February.
Before that now infamous Access Hollywood tape was released, Coulter said she believes people "had been willing to cut [Ivanka] a certain amount of slack because she made women's economic empowerment a core center of her brand and because she's his daughter."
But people "were no longer willing to do so when she returned to the campaign trail in the wake of the Trump tapes," she said. "They just felt like the hypocrisy of that was too much to handle."
And now, with Ivanka regularly sitting in on meetings with world leaders and taking on an unpaid role as an assistant to the president, "she's a key part of this administration and she deserves as much scrutiny as anyone else who is part of the administration," Coulter said.
As long as companies continue to do business with President Trump, Coulter is vowing to keep the movement — and its momentum — going.
"Things may be close at the polling place, but they're not close at the cash register," she said.
A Brookings analysis of a Moody's Analytics estimate found that Clinton carried counties that account for 64 percent of the country's economic output. While Trump carried five times as many counties, they represented 36 percent of the country's economic output.
It's data that Coulter said shows the potential of how much of an impact Grab Your Wallet can have as more people become what she calls "conscious consumers."
"I think it is important that we show our political beliefs with our wallets and as conscious consumers, because the people who voted against hate in November generate two-thirds of this nation's economic activity," she said. "And right now, I feel like we have a really strong moral obligation to flex that consumer power in favor of core American values, like inclusivity and respect and equality."