Remember When Home Depot Refused to do Business With…?

Publicly shaming people into line is a game everybody can play


Ricardo Diaz

It was over a decade ago that purchasers representing a sometimes controversial segment of American society discovered that Home Depot had no interest in their business—in fact, it had a formal corporate policy against selling to them. As the Associated Press put it:

The Home Depot Inc., the nation's biggest hardware and home-improvement chain, has told its 1,400 stores not to do business with the U.S. government or its representatives, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday.

The newspaper checked with managers at 38 Home Depot stores in 11 states. All but two said they had received instructions from Home Depot's corporate headquarters in Atlanta this month not to take government credit cards, purchase orders or even cash if the items are being used by the federal government.

There was simmering outrage from many corners of American society. How dare a major American corporation refuse equipment and service to the federal government when there's a war on?

As it turned out, the move had little to to with a principled anti-war stance and everything to do with a principled anti-red tape stance. The federal government is a pain in the ass to deal with. With regard to a memo to store managers reiterating policy, Frank Fernandez, executive vice president and general counsel noted, "Since we have never been a federally approved contractor, our intent was to re-state our existing policy for our stores and associates and remind them of their responsibilities in complying with related rules."

A Washington Post piece on the growing kerfuffle noted, "a firm that does $50,000 worth of business in a year with the federal government automatically becomes a federal contractor and must file reams of paperwork."

But this was 2002 in hysterical post-9/11 America, and popular sentiment lay heavily against those who for reasons principled or pragmatic chose to discriminate against the federal government. You find only traces of the old fulminating online these days, but the home improvement company faced threats of boycotts and widespread challenges to its patriotism.

And so it folded.

"We've always supported the federal and local governments during emergencies and natural disasters through donations and volunteer efforts," said Bob Nardelli, Home Depot chairman, president and CEO. "Now, we'll be able to support them as part of our regular business as well."

It's good to be part of the herd. Whichever herd.

Below, Harry Dean Stanton in Repo Man demonstrates a fair-handed approach to discrimination.

NEXT: Barack Obama's 2 Year Economic Plan: "Nobody's Gonna Be Gettin' Rich"

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  1. I read 2Chilly articles just for the alt-text.

    1. Again; america is finished because we have abandoned capitalism.

      Can we just get it over with already and have the collapse so we can start from scratch?

  2. At some point we’re all going to run out of things to say on this subject, right?

    But at least the Reason staff has an easy means of hitting their required number of contributions this week.

    1. This is a least something fresh on the subject. And this is certainly a boycott I can get behind!

  3. Remind me never to shop a Home Depot.

    Oh wait, I already don’t.

    1. If only we had the option of not shopping at the federal government.

      1. *best southpark redneck voice*

        “If you don’t like it, you can git out!”

      2. You do have the option of not shopping, you will, however have the pay regardless.

        1. Oh, I’m pretty sure I don’t have a choice about partaking of their law enforcement,, regulatory and other services either.

  4. More like Home Despot. Am I right, people?

    1. That’s what we called it when I worked there.

  5. I’ve turned down a fair number of grants that would have made my hospital a federal contractor, solely because of the paperwork.

    1. Atta boy, R C!

  6. I didn’t know about that. I might have given them more business.

    Actually, I don’t care and I will buy things where it is most convenient for me. Which is usually not Home Depot.

  7. I don’t think it was the boycott threat that caused Home Depot to change their policy but rather their idiot CEO Nardelli was completely ignorant of it, like he was about most of the company, until it made the news. Once he found out Home Depot was actively discouraging federal business, he probably thought it was an easy way to grab more revenue (and ignore the paperwork cost).

    1. Nardelli is a terrible businessman. He damn near bankrupted Home Depot, and did manage to bankrupt Chrysler. He must be a swell guy, a people person, but he sucks at CEO.

      1. To be fair, Chrysler was shit long before Nardelli got there.

  8. “a firm that does $50,000 worth of business in a year with the federal government automatically becomes a federal contractor and must file reams of paperwork.”

    Hmm. Does filing taxes count as “doing business”? One hopes so, because think of the JOBS!

    1. I think they have to be paying you for it to count.

      1. What about if you claim tax advantages that “cost” the federal government money? I’ve always been assured that any dollar the Fed doesn’t collect is a “cost” to the government. In that respect, I suppose, we are all federal contractors.

        1. Unless they are really going to stretch the “social contract” idea to its limit, that still seems like a stretch.

  9. OT: With Gratitude for ‘Most Tenacious Public Servant,’ Nevada Brothel Offers to Host Harry Reid’s Retirement Party

    “Again, thank you so much for your years of public service and we anxiously await your reply.”

    “P.S. Please be careful around the ‘exercise equipment’.”

    1. There have to be some laws that would protect the women working there form that kind of punishment.

      1. What punishment? Is he going to go nuts and start beating them after his flaccid zombie dick continues it’s two-decade streak of refusing to respond to any stimulus?

  10. Why not the Mr Burns method? Make the feds crawl through a dusty tunnel whose entrance is labeled “Supplicants”.

    In other news, here is a video from 2006 where conservatives are lampooned for being censorious. Because liberals would never, ever want to use the power of law to silence people they don’t like. Bonus- it’s a parody of the Mac vs. PC ads.

    1. Interesting approval ratio on that video.

    2. Also, why wasn’t jobless bum called out for talking over the straw conservative?

    3. Oh, 2006. Was there ever a time we were so innocent?

      1. August 2001 feels like the stone age.

    4. In other news, here is a video from 2006 where conservatives are lampooned for being censorious.

      Not only lampooned about being censorious, but dismissed about not being concerned about the big issues like the budget and foreign affairs.

      Iran will be able to drop nuclear bombs on homosexuals, but Hoosiers won’t be allowed to refuse them a delicious pizza.

    5. I wonder if there is a rule against charging a service fee to the Feds for the extra hassle.

  11. As a kid, after a Saturday soccer game or little league, my dad would take me to Home Depot or Lowes and I would want to kill myself as he spent hours in that place.

    Now all grown up, I love home improvement stores.

  12. I started with my online business I earn $58 every 15 minutes. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out.
    ? ? ? ? LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY ? ? ? ? ?


  13. Lots of companies have a policy like this. I worked retail 20 years ago and we had this policy, for the same reason.

    1. Our company didn’t do business with the Federal Government (except small amounts with the National Guard, which may or may not be considered Federal).

      From my experience, in doing business with any government entity, you almost needed a court order to get paid, and it took forever. It had gotten to the point where we wouldn’t take purchase orders from a couple of municipalities. No cash, no service. We sold construction equipment, so during the winter it would get fun with the local gov’t. It was truly more trouble than it was worth.

  14. It’s a shame they folded. Their decision to NOT do fed business was a quite intelligent and legitimate one.

    Hell, city and county business…ALL government business… is a pain in the ass. Smart people don’t need the aggravation.

  15. I worked for a privately owned company where the owner absolutely would not consider any kind of grant, loan, subsidy or credit etc from the government. He knew that their involvement in his business was never worth it. Smart guy.

    I also worked for a home heating oil company and the worst, THE WORST, payers were government agencies. Well, them and, believe it or not, churches. Imagine threatening to take a convent to small claims court for non-payment.

  16. Apple to close all stores in countries that base their laws upon Shari’a upon order of Tim Cook.

    1. Reason would be against that

  17. more edgy conformity from Reason

    1. yes thats Reason – secret MSM tools right? did you get lost on your way to the john birch website or something?

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